Monday, September 1, 2008

A record of what matters to us

Yes, I'm procrastinating again. But this time, the distraction (and my compulsive need to share it) is directly relevant to my book project! As I sit here for the fifth consecutive day trying to stitch my notes and thoughts and journal entries into a coherent chapter (or two), SB is having not-so-quiet time upstairs humming to herself in her bedroom and Alex is in the basement noisily wrestling with lengths of metal ductwork that will help us more efficiently heat the upstairs of our house come fall, which, judging from today's brisk weather, is already upon us.

Against this sensory backdrop, I read this passage in Alain de Botton's The Architecture of Happiness (thanks to SVW for reminding me of this book!):

"There need be nothing preternaturally sweet or homespun about the moods embodied in domestic spaces. These spaces can speak to us of the sombre as readily as they can of the gentle. There is no necessary connection between the concepts of home and of prettiness; what we call a home is merely any place that succeeds in making more consistently available to us the important truths which the wider world ignores, or which our distracted and irresolute selves have trouble holding on to.

"As we write, so we build: to keep a record of what matters to us."

Thank you, Alain de Botton, for reminding me why I'm working on this project in my not-so-pretty, half torn apart house.

And can't help but notice more craziness regarding Sarah Palin in today's more reputable news sources, but I will resist for as long as possible. . . .


Cheri said...

we just moved into a new house. a large (feeling) 3-story row house in SW Philly (the northeast part of SW Philly). We are part of the slow tentacle invasion of gentrification, even though we're renters. My neighbors, however, are wonderful and friendly -- the most friendly I've encountered in Philly. What does it mean when your neighbor sits on your door step because she likes to sit outside and she likes the light that your house's street light gives and tells you after a friendly conversation while you're walking in the door that she used to live in your house until the owner sold it to an Irish couple, forcing she and her family to move, and that she wishes the owner would have told her mom who would have tried to raise the money to buy the house?

DomaMama said...

No matter what you call it, gentrification or urban renewal, it's a tough spot to be in. It seems like being conscious of what inequities are playing out in your wake already puts you ahead of most folks, who participate in the encroachment/displacement cycle without really knowing it. Not that guilt should solve all, but in my view, participating and investing in your community--rather than just looking for a good deal or hoping your home value will go up (I know you're just renting)--is probably just what gentrifying neighborhoods need.