We moved last week and the hot button question people are asking is “are you settled yet?”
I still pause before I answer, because I’m not sure. All the boxes are unpacked, the kitchen is in order and has produced a few meals, we have a supply of toilet paper, are no longer scrambling to find bath towels, and there are little homey touches popping up in every room. Settled in the new apartment, yes. Settled in my heart and secure enough to call this new city home? Not quite yet. I still feel a bit uprooted, but the shock is fading and we’re working hard (because it is hard work) to dig in and make way for the feeling of belonging.
Hugo and I made banana muffins together this morning, and in the process, made a memory. That’s the thing this apartment lacks to really feel like home. All our stuff is here, and our people are here, but there aren’t many memories yet. That’s quickly changing as we laugh together, play together, make muffins together, and do life together in this new space, and it’s wonderful!
Feeling at home in a new city is a bit harder. I still have a lot of place attachment to Chicago and Ohio - they’re both warm, familiar places, and I call both home. It’s really odd to live in a place that doesn’t feel like home, and I don’t want to sit too long in that odd feeling. So the process has begun - we’re learning the way around our new Brooklyn neighborhood, finding the grocery stores and delis, figuring out how to live carless, building a new routine.
I listened to a podcast this morning about placemaking and loving the place you live. Part of feeling at home in a new place is what you make of it. Or, as Melody Warnick said on the podcast, “We create our cities with how we think about them.” If I think of Brooklyn as huge, hip, and hard to break into, that’s probably the kind of Brooklyn I’ll experience. If I perceive it as a thriving, diverse community with much to offer, I’ll probably begin to see it come to life in that way. Melody gave numerous other practical tips and experiences from her book about loving the place you live in the interview, and I’ve experienced each one to be true in my own previous placemaking episodes. She suggested that we can speed the process of placemaking by
- walking (to interact with your new neighborhood in a more human way and observe things you may overlook in a car)
- shopping locally (to feel a sense of purpose and become part of the larger community)
- being neighborly (because people are life-giving, and knowing your neighbors makes your ‘hood safer and more friendly)
- doing fun stuff (to leave a trail of memories and feel belonging)
- getting out in nature (to appreciate the earthiness and history and uniqueness of the place where you live)
I’m going to take all these tips to heart as we continue to make our home here in Brooklyn! Belonging is a gift that takes time, and I think it begins with gratefulness and good old positivity. But if the process of becoming attached to a place can be accelerated, I’m all for it. As Melody said so well,
“loving the place you live doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever. It just means while you’re there, you love it really hard! You make it your own and live it up.”
My love for Brooklyn is a little deeper this afternoon because of the new memory of muffin making in our cozy little apartment. Tomorrow is an entire day waiting to be filled with more simple memories and everyday adventures as we make this new city our home. Oh, and leftover muffins. They’re simply 👌🏻.