a happy 2013 to everyone! i am very glad to introduce a new element on this blog – INTERVIEWS. i have been entertaining the idea for quite some time now and settled on a simple q&a form with follow-up inquiries. at least for a start. i am certain that it will be evolving as i go.
i want to know how people perceive HOME; what is it to them? is it a stable notion rooted in geography and tradition? a dream world of imagination to refer to for inspiration? a place? a school of sensations and memories?
my first interviewee – IRA – is a friend of mine who has lived an uprooted life for many years now, moving from one place to another, exposed to a whirlpool of sensuous and intellectual stimuli. she runs a blog where she keeps track of the changes she has been going through – a lifelong learning process, as she calls it. the blog is full of surprising insights and beautiful photographs so if you read russian i recommend that you give it a thorough look.
here is what ira had to say on HER sense of home.
hoopoeinanoak: your age and anything else that you think is important to know about you. in a couple of sentences.
IRA: I am 30 years old and, even though I am tired of living a nomadic lifestyle, I can’t seem to stop travelling. As a kid I desperately wanted to explore the world. However, I never precisely defined what I was expecting to find and perhaps that is why I keep moving from country to country.
h: where are you from?
IRA: I come from St. Petersburg, Russia. Growing up, I also stayed in many different places all over Russia when visiting friends and relatives.
h: what place/s do you have an attachment to? why?
IRA: At the moment I don’t have any specific place I have an attachment to.
h: where is home for you? why?
IRA: My home is my husband. I used to have some apartments I called “home” but nowadays I move to a new country almost every year and so the concept of “home” is sort of non-existent to me.
h: how do you relate to the place where you live now? is there an intimate connection?
IRA: At the moment I’m living in Edinburgh, Scotland. I guess we bond. He has a resilient attitude and an old-fashioned style. I appreciate his features and he supports me in my everyday activities. My life is really comfortable thanks to him.
h: what are two or three of your favorite memories from childhood? what makes them special?
IRA: I enjoyed making a trek to the countryside with my friends when I was little. We would make a team of 5-6 kids, take some food and toys and walk to some remote river or hills. We were absolutely convinced that we had arrived at some far-flung undiscovered land ☺. We played, told stories and shared snacks. Those were good times, when children could feel free and adventurous, and parents did not have to panic when letting us out of the house.
I remember my mom taking me abroad when I was 13. This trip to Italy changed my perception of the world: suddenly it became massive and diverse. When we came back I found a private English teacher for myself. I believed that learning English could help me to explore the world. And you know what? It did help ☺
h: what do you think has changed? why is it harder for kids today to “feel free and adventurous”? has the world really become a more dangerous place or is it people’s perceptions that have shifted?
IRA: I am not sure that the world has really become a dangerous place since then, but my perception of it has definitely shifted. I have been conditioned to see certain things as being threats to my safety. Kids are free of such fears. Ignorance is bliss.
h: what would you change in your immediate environment (house, street, neighborhood)?
IRA: I would get rid of all the roadwork related to the trams being returned to Edinburgh’s streets. It takes way too long to install the infrastructure and I am getting tired of waiting.
h: is there something from your past you feel nostalgic about? (how you perceived the world, your surroundings, people, smells, time… anything)
IRA: I feel nostalgic about good family times: travels, activities and meals.
h: your dream house/ living space: where, how big, what colors and shapes, your routine?
IRA: It’s spacious but not big. I value air and unrestricted views. I hate cluttered spaces and threadbare furniture. My dream house has at least one glass wall looking on to a natural site (woodland, field etc.). It is good if the house merges with the landscape from outside. The inner walls should be painted white; décor includes big artistic objects or paintings.
h: painful memories: how do they influence how you see/feel your home/place/environment?
IRA: Painful memories do influence how I see some places. I don’t go back to the places where I felt unhappy even if some friends or family still live there.
h: do you think your background (family, social status, culture, etc.) has a role in how you see ideal vs undesirable when it comes to defining your home? please specify.
IRA: When I was a child I hated the idea of living in a house somewhere outside a big city. I imagined being torn away from everything that was interesting for me. I guess I had to go through several capitals and megalopolises to understand that I don’t really enjoy concrete jungles that much. I can only call a place “home” if it allows me to relax and charge my batteries – something that never happens in a big city.
h: is nature an important element of your sense of home?
IRA: It has become valuable for me in recent years.
h: could you please elaborate on it a little bit? in what way?
IRA: It makes me enjoy life as it is.
h: what is travel to you? how does it change your perception of self, if at all?
IRA: Travel is my life nowadays. Traveling used to give me an opportunity to see myself from outside, compare or analyze things. Now I need to settle down to be able to do all of that because constant travelling distracts me from myself.
h: fill in the blanks ————->>
* in my garden/ backyard I would like to have these trees… willow, linden, and spruce.
* I would never want to live … in a Chinese megalopolis.
* I feel comfortable surrounded by … heaters ☺
* a view/ sight of … a river makes me feel at home.
* home is where … my husband is.
* I cringe when I see … rudeness.
* I wish people just stopped … lying.
* I hope more people will … listen to themselves
* this natural sound makes me the happiest: … silence of a desert.
* I think nature should … be respected.
(photographs from ira’s personal archive)