One week in a new place and already it feels like home. How does that even work?
Here’s what I’ve learned after having seven new homes in four months:
1) Unpack ASAP. I hate living out of suitcases, even for a few days. The sooner my pack is empty and stowed, the sooner I feel at home. Craig will often wait days to unpack, and just seeing his pack or suitcase in the room disorients me and leaves me feeling like he’s not committed. The sight of luggage keeps me off-balance somehow.
2) Shop in the neighborhood. I need to find the closest quick shop and the nearest supermarket immediately. Landlords can usually give me that information, and visiting each to stock my kitchen makes me feel in control right away. Taking note of nearby bakeries, pharmacies, produce markets, and likely spots to catch a cab helps me feel like i know how to get my needs met, and I am learning to buy things from the small shops close to home instead of going to the supermarket for everything like I would in the states. It’s nice to quickly become a ‘regular’ at the neighborhood shops.
3) Cook. Since I’m living in tourist apartments, I get a whole new set of dishes and cooking utensils, along with a new kitchen layout, with each move. Once I’ve cooked 2-3 simple meals, I have a sense of the strengths/weaknesses/capabilities of my new space and can find things quickly.
4) Learn some names. This seems to be far more important to me when I’m alone than when Craig is with me. I’ve been in Cusco one week and I know my landlord, his parents, the shopkeeper on the corner, and the waiter at the vegetarian place by name. I get lazy about this when Craig is around, though – less social need, I suppose.
5) Shower. I need to have taken a couple of showers in a place before I feel at home there.
I try to eat at least one meal per day in my new space, starting with the second day I’m there (since I arrive with no food). Cooking leads to more shopping, dishwashing, taking trash out… and those chores help make me feel at home, too.
I just moved from one apartment to another in the same building (the one I wanted wasn’t available for the first week). I’ve been here one afternoon and it feels *almost* like home, since I know my way around the neighborhood already. Just need to cook and shower a couple of times!