Memory and Home ~

There’s been a lot of buzz around the movie “Inception”. You know the one with Leonardo DiCaprio. Without being a spoiler, I will say that there’s a lot of association with home, and memory. Although not the major premise of the film, it got me wondering…

Why we are so deeply imprinted with memories of home?  Much like salmon swimming up the streams their grandmother salmon traversed, we [may] go about recreating our sense of own unique home wherever we go. The same sense of home.

I know I do….

Where I live now, I have the same sort of terrace area with lots of potted geraniums, garden art, and comfy seating I’ve always had.  Even if the ‘terrace’ was a fire escape in San Francisco in my early 20’s.   It is here in the garden that I am most conscious of my recreating home,…well, garden.

Inside, true, the furniture, the art, the antiques, come with me wherever I go.  A certain sameness.  I lose a piece here or there, as I shift from coast to coast. I gain a piece as I find them along the way. Yet, the ‘essential’ home really does remain the same. It’s me. It’s my nest.  The epiphany?  Home is me.

Are you the same?

I fantasize of being a mid-century modern girl with a classic collection of wood dining room chairs, a swishy swedish modern table, a brilliantly hued couch, and perhaps a deep white shag rug. Well, that’s a little 60’s modern, isn’t it?

I think about moving again across country and ditching everything I own. I think about this. But, it won’t happen. Well, it could happen.  Could. This much I know too, even if I did, I would soon be finding the little things and colors and textures that spell out home to me.

There’s the concept of Feng Shui, which pretty much everyone knows a little about – there being few ‘real’ experts out there.  The most intriguing aspect to me is that one in which your home setting influences you, and not the other way around.  You add a mirror here where there are weird cut-off corners to your space, you add a wind chime there to clear some stagnant energy – and poof!  Your life moves on…

I do know when I lived in Boston in a lovely pied-a-terre, I tried some of those ideas.  In trying them, I did feel different.  But it is sort of a chicken and the egg quandary.  Does the desire precede the form?  The energy shift occur mentally or spiritually before the room reflects the shift?

Back to the film…. In dreams, we create spaces in which to act out our deeply held notions.  Vivid dreams of homes intrigue me. When I used to have rental properties, I had a particular preminiscious ‘landlord’ dream. Usually the very next day, dang, a tenant would call to say they were breaking their lease, or the water heater had blown, that sort of thing.  In these dreams, I’d be in a very well-defined home or condo, with all the features you might describe in a real estate advertisement.  I’d be there, usually with some ‘dream-land’ tenants, and realizing that “Yes, indeed, I do own this wonderful house”. Never-mind the fact that I’d completely forgotten that fact; Forgotten to make mortgage payments (which magically got paid by the renters on my behalf).  It got so that after one of these ‘landlord’ dreams, I’d just wait for the call the next day!

Designing is about dreaming, isn’t it?  If you have ever sketched out your ‘dream’ house, in some ways, you are creating memories on paper.  Creating future memories.  Scribing beliefs about home.

Gazing through home magazines, we  search page for a confirmation of self….”yes, that’s me”.  Or, “no, I could never like that chromed faux-bois table base, that persimmon colored chaise”.

Does your dream home have a walk-in pantry?  Does it have a lap pool out back?  Do you create rooms which flow from one to another, or perhaps are strung along a defining axis?  Do you dream in color or in space?

And, what does this say about you?  More to think on, definitely! See the movie in any case, there are luscious images of home and very architectural places.

Published by Alexis Wittman

Artist, Designer, Writer, Facilitator living in Northern Michigan Architectural Engineer/Designer owner of Architectural Research + Design.

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  1. It was an interesting movie… and yes, I know what you mean about the spaces we choose to inhabit – we are attracted to the same ‘anchors’. I’ve observed this over many years and many moves across the country. My favourite places have always had lots of space around them with outlooks into some sort of large garden – or fields. Inside, it’s always the shelves filled with books and leather and timber furniture. I’ve observed that we carry not only the ‘insides’ but the’ outsides’ as our sense of home wherever we go. Makes me wonder where this comes from when my childhood homes were not like this. When and how did these things begin to feel so “right”?

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