As Elené recently put so eloquently, the notion of home has recently extended into our personalities and has, in some ways, become our personalities: “It’s an osmotic process, where the space both frees and traps you.” With her exploration of the notion of home in mind, the rest of the team decided to delve into their own processes of making or finding their home. For some, it is a continual process, while for others, home signifies more than just a space, but somewhere filled with an abundance of friends, fond memories, and the pains of growing up. From res rooms, to first apartments, to still living with your parents – here are the team’s favourite memories of home.
I’ve had a few “first places” in my life. Although we never moved in my childhood years, I got my first glimpse of adulthood when I moved into my own apartment at the ripe old age of 17. It was a tiny bachelor flat in the cute little courtyard of a guest house in Paarl. And while it helped that it was already furnished when I moved in, it just never quite felt like my own space.
The next year at varsity, I moved into a hostel/residence for the first time, which became my home for four years. I loved decorating my own room, and with a student budget you find interesting ways to transform a 21 square meter room into something you enjoy coming back to everyday. But while it was cosy, I still couldn’t really call it home.
Now, 8 years later, I’m all grown up (or at least that’s what I tell myself). I’ve lived in two different apartments in two years, and have now moved into a real house for the first time since high school. I guess you can say decorating and turning it into my own place have become a hobby for me. I’m not sure if it’s 25 kicking in and that I’m turning into a boring old lady who enjoys shopping for a kettle, but more often than not I find myself spending my money on houseplants, wine glasses, recipe books and gardening tools. And while I’m still just a tenant occupying a stranger’s house for a year, I feel like I’m finally making my house a home.
Since turning 18, I have moved out of and back into my parents’ house numerous times. And while all those times had legitimate reasons behind them, every move back felt like a step back, and the impending message of perpetual unadultness kept rearing its ugly head. Moving back home felt like a failure, even though the comfort of my parents’ home is and always will be a welcome safety net.
Moving into a university residence would have been the first step towards adulthood, however, as I soon discovered, a university residence wasn’t the beacon of freedom and independence I thought it would be. Living in a small 5m² res room meant living with furniture already provided to you, eating in a dining hall with cutlery and plates, sharing a bathroom with many other (sometimes not so neat) co-inhabitants, but also lacking a definitive space you called your own. Nevertheless, I persevered with what I had and tried to create a home from a room with prestik and Pinterest artwork, and sometimes, if the budget afforded it, some fresh flowers. However, I knew the space had a shelf life and so I treated it as a sort of liminal space, a layover until the real deal.
The real deal, however, wasn’t what I thought it would be either. In my Honours year at university, I moved back to my parents’ house since my classes were limited and the commute not that severe. However, the freedom of walking wherever and staying up until all hours of the morning wasn’t as easy (or acceptable). More than that, it meant that my home wasn’t really my own, but that of my parents’.
Starting a first job seemed like the ideal time to finally get the hell out of my parents’ home and find my own space, however, 2020 had other plans and it has turned out to be the most tumultuous year of “finding home” yet. I gave up my small, yet cosy room in Stellenbosch to move back to my parents’ house (yet again). I ultimately don’t regret this as the company was very welcome during the first few very strict weeks of lockdown, and I soon found a good rhythm to working, but also separating working time from down time.
With the virus still in full swing, I’m not entirely sure where this year will still take me or if I’ll ever feel at peace with a piece of ground, cement and brick that I call my own. What I have learned, however, is that home isn’t necessarily a room with your own tables, chairs, cutlery and a toaster, but a space in which you can feel free to be unapologetically yourself.
Seven years ago I moved out of my parents house into Kasteel Ladies Residence in Potchefstroom. Since then, I packed up and moved quite a lot. But all this moving didn’t mean I was making home. After varsity I moved in with one of my best mates, Jamie. We were both starting our first jobs and were fresh out of varsity so our home consisted of hand-me-downs from our parents and friends. There wasn’t a specific style to our house and nothing actually fit together. The first thing I bought was a couch. Jamie and I bought it together and we were very proud of our first attempt at being adults.
And then I moved to Stellenbosch, without Jamie and our couch. And as I’m starting to feel at home in my Stellenbsoch house with only a typewriter and turntable that I can call my own, I realise that making a home is not about the furniture or the stuff, but about the people.
The house that Jamie and I called home was far from perfect. The oh-so-famous couch basically disappeared in the big living room but if that couch could have talked, it would have told you the best stories. From friends crashing on the couch over weekends, Sunday afternoon movies with Woolworths chocolate mousse straight out of the container, to the moment that I received a call from Lumico for a job opportunity.
Having older brothers who both moved out straight after high school meant that for three years I basically grew up as a single child. Being the only girl also meant that I seldom had to share rooms. This all resulted in me being very used to only living with boys and having my own space.
So the famdam was very sceptical when I decided to go to an all-girls “koshuis” at my university as I had to share my space with strangers. But needless to say, I loved it. My parents’ house was still in the same town as my university, but they didn’t see me for at least the first four months of varsity. Those who also lived in a “koshuis” know that your room is your kitchen, bedroom, study centre, night out pre-venue, and girls night location all in one. All shared with someone else. And as much as my roommate tried to stop it, our room always ended up being the room where all our friends came to chill. We once probably had about 15 girls in our room.
My roommate and I moved our room layout around almost every term, we hung up souvenirs from nights out, and stuck pictures everywhere. It was chaos, but since neither of us were known for our interior decorating skills, we were fine with it. In my first year I rarely cooked food and opted mostly for take-out or res food (cue first year spread). I had no routine other than trying to go to class, having an evening nap and getting to bed before 3am.
The first thing I probably bought was a fan since summer in Stellenbosch is no joke. But other than that I spent most of my pocket money on coffee and vodka limes (sorry mom). I was 18 and didn’t need much. The first thing I bought when I started making my own money was a pink flamingo swimming tube, how grown-up of me. I know.
Looking back now, moving into a “koshuis” was one of my best decisions. I was blessed with an awesome roommate and friends who made me forget about the “bad” things about “koshuis life”. I ended up staying three years. And for those wondering, I cook now, drink mostly whiskey, and my bed time is 8pm.
Living by myself is something I’ve always wanted to do and being independent has its perks, but sometimes I wish someone could guide me through this independence thing. As you get older you realize that no one really knows what the heck their doing. So going into the unknown can be a bit scary.
I am lucky to have had some practice runs before having my own place. At university I stayed in a residence, but for the first two years my sister was there so I felt safe and I made friends rather quickly. Then when I got my first job I stayed with my aunt and uncle, so I still had someone to vent to when I got home. Although I payed rent there I didn’t have to stress about much else.
The real challenge came when I moved into my own place. I revamped it by myself and with my own money, which did leave me strapped for cash sometimes, but I made it through and now I have a cozy place decorated the way I want it. For a long time I didn’t really feel complete and I couldn’t figure out why, until I finally bought a rug. It sounds silly but ever since I bought the rug it feels more homey and it really does tie a room together.
I don’t have a lot of things and I have come to realise that I don’t really need more than I already have. I have a roof over my head, a warm place to sleep, and friends and family that I am safe with.