When I was in university, I had a friend named Tracey. We met in Welsh class (that alone should tell you we were soul mates), and I remember the first time she invited me to her home. She lived in a bachelor apartment filled with golden sunlight, and most of the space was taken up with a Celtic harp, a spinning wheel, and a loom. And not just a little decorative loom, either, but a massive, intricate thing the size of a grand piano. I was transfixed by the instant peaceful feeling in that apartment. Simplicity, sunlight, and creative skill all came together in one place. It was as if I'd entered a secret realm, where she could surround herself with whatever reflected her nature and create the atmosphere most conducive to her well being. For someone who had grown up in a family of seven, the idea of having one's own space like that was fascinating. I didn't know such private worlds could exist. When she married and moved into a house, that same peaceful feeling (and lack of furniture) accompanied her.
When you walk into my Mom and Dad's home, there is an instant recognition of beauty and peace and...I don't even know the word for it. Love is in that home, in tangible ways you can perceive. Other people have commented on it too. Even when my parents were away in Hungary for a year and a half and my cousin was house-sitting, you could still walk into their home and feel that same feeling. Their spirit was still there, in the very fabric and walls. It goes beyond the lovely artwork or comfortable furnishings. It's a house of comfort.
Little parts of you rub off on your home. The spirit you carry within you leaves its impression on your surroundings, and then vice versa. I can't explain it well, but I think it's a real phenomenon, and it isn't necessarily anything to do with decorating or paint colour or the arrangement of objects. You can walk into a beautiful, magazine-spread-worthy house and instantly tell if the people within that house are happy or not. Some of the most lovely houses leave me cold, and some of the more humble and unimpressive places open their arms and draw me warmly in.
I'm exploring this concept in the book I'm writing right now, about a home renovator who inherits a house but doesn't know from whom. She goes to see the place, bewildered and puzzled, but she can sense the impression the previous owner has left upon the place. The home welcomes her, has only good intentions toward her, opens its arms to her, and she decides to fix it up and live there while she unravels the mystery of who her benefactor might be.
I don't know what sort of spirit is in my own home. I'm so used to it, I'm not sure I can perceive it as well as an outsider could. I know my house is lively, has its noisy moments, and there is always some kind of creative activity going on, whether that's music or dance or art or cooking or writing or growing things. Life here revolves around books, good food, and good conversation. Somehow there always seems to be room for one more. I try to keep it simple, and I try to provide space for every person's interests (which is why there's a piano in one bedroom, a stack of musical instrument cases in the dining room, trays of seedlings on the kitchen counter, and a drafting table crammed in next to the crib). I may not know what sort of impression my house is picking up, but my grandchildren will be able to tell me someday. They're picking up that same impression right now.