The standard wisdom on this point is that people and relationships are more important than things. But after living in other people’s spaces for more than a year or most of a decade, depending on exactly how I count, I have come to understand that my power and even clear thinking depend on controlling my environment and schedule.
Yet I also force myself to remember that in the periods of my life when I had the most beautiful environments and autonomous schedule, my serenity was not enough. I wanted to commune.
I do not like at all that these two things seem increasingly to be counterposed. I am not satisfied to cycle between irritating sociality and solitary retreat. I want to be with my people in a comfortable kitchen. This drives an irrational urge to coach everyone to declutter their homes and most importantly to throw out those uncomfortable dining chairs.
My friend, designer, Wendy Neale proposed that I bring the most important bits of my terroir with me. That doesn’t do anything about bad furniture, but I can induce candlelight wherever I go. I can drink out of glasses I like, and sleep in my own soft sheets. This works better than I anticipated and enables me to gently transform others’ landscapes instead of sitting helplessly in them.