Saturday 14 December 2013

Kai Folk: Essay 1: Where Homes Begin

This bell tent is the first home that I have ever owned. A place I could orientate whichever way I chose, fill with whatever furniture my heart desired. A place that belonged to no one else except me and my boyfriend at the time. Once purchased, it was ours, no-one else’s. It was small enough but perfect for two people. Three metres in diameter but completely and utterly perfect.

For years, I have longed for a place to call my own, to do with as I pleased, to be myself in. At the same time, I have always wanted to travel, minimal possessions, moving from one place to another and meeting fascinating people along the way in beautiful locations in cities and outside. When I first moved to Dublin over two years ago, I was curious what city living was going to be like and I was beyond lucky to find a lovely housemate to share that experience with. It was only when I decided to move in with my boyfriend that I realised how meagre, unimaginative and down right depressing rentals in Dublin’s fair city can be. After two long months of trawling websites, we finally settled on a one bed apartment that radiated a meanness of spirit. Our hands were tied. We were paying € 750 but there was nothing we could do to the place to make it our own. We lasted six weeks after realising that we do not need to rely on other people’s standards when we have ideas of our own on how we wanted to live.

Hence the bell tent idea. A tipi was too impermanent and a yurt was out of our budget. The bell tent was the perfect solution. I laugh now at the memory that it took us hours to put the tent up the first time, whereas now, it’s embarrassingly simple. We lived in that tent for the summer, a summer that rained incessantly, a summer of unemployment and family illness. There were several times I wanted to follow that side of me that yearns to travel but I felt compelled to stay and be supportive. Owning and living in that tent saved me that summer. Living in that bell tent helped me realise that compromises can be made between travel and staying put, between transience and constancy. Leaving the city behind and entering that tent each evening was akin to going on an adventure, travelling somewhere else for a few hours and feeling safe and exhilarated at the same time.

Right now it’s December and over a year since I lived in that bell tent. I’m renting a room in a shared house five minutes from the city and all I can think about is the need for a place of my own, a sanctuary, a calm space that is my own. I am being equally pulled on both sides by the desires to travel and learn and seek out new places and the desire to take root here in Dublin and find a place for myself to call home. A place where there are no landlords, where I can spend the warmest months of the year close to the city and travel far away when it gets too cold.

I realise now that two years ago when we bought that tent, I embarked on something I never thought possible in this country, especially not in Dublin. I started to live in a space I wanted, freely, with a garden and a community around me. If that was possible in a three metre tent in a back garden in the city with virtually no money to speak of then surely it can only become more possible with time. I have hope that buying that tent was the beginning. Buying that tent was where my home began. I’d like to thank him for embracing that whacky idea I had of living in a tent in the back garden and for thinking that it was the best crazy idea he’d heard of.

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