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Home of the Future



The Story

It's just a dream, a vision. This place I've long imagined living out the final years of my life. A storybook stone cottage on a quiet lake in the mountains. Not as flashy as it is functional, but still luxurious in the way that comfort is a luxury in the way that ample cabinets and counter space are a fantasy in the way that healthy food and art are considered extra rather than essential in America.

I picture the place as a palace of self care, engineered to support healing and creation. I've never been under the delusion my dream home might actually be realized. It's like those inflated goals they set in the workplace, no one actually reaches them. But we achieve a little more just for striving for trying to rise above the mediocre medium. There are worse face than mediocrity. Compromises coping, adapting, deciding where to direct your energy because diffused, diluted, it loses power, rather than stew and dissatisfaction, always wanting a little more than I'll ever get. I've studied the Dharma, how to be happy in this life as it really is not as I would have it. It will be enough if I can manage to sustain myself pay my own way as long as I can. And if when we find that I can't, there's no shame in letting others help. But I don't want to talk about reality today. It's not that I don't want to tell the truth. I've already written about the Thanksgiving Day eviction of 2002 It's a tender spot 25 moves in 30 years, there's only been two in the last 20 if that tells us anything. There's a time and a place for the past and if retirement allows I will write all the pages. When you rather take a tour of the potential.


Follow me down a landscaped path under a canopy of leafy vines that grow back every summer. surrounding the house are my favorite plants from all the places I've lived Laird here, as if sketched on sheets of translucent vellum, the fuchsias from San Mateo, CA Jaws, willows and wild blueberries, the rhubarb that grew under the steps in Northampton, Pocono, ferns and rhododendrons and bright orange tiger lilies, Jackson streets Magnolia wild strawberries forget me nots and honeysuckle. Beyond a wide welcoming wooden front door, there is a place to put your shoes, socks and slippers for cold feet. Hang your coat. Stay a while. A spacious kitchen surrounds an island counter large enough for us all to cook together. Celebrate friends with pierogi parties and book club gatherings. The architect knew this is where the best conversations happen. The open shelves are stocked with cookbooks jars of dried herbs in teas, bottles of oils and vinegars a spice rack organized in a rainbow of color. A glass door leads out to the culinary garden and small greenhouse where we grow herbs and vegetables three seasons of the year. Here is a cozy patio to commiserate over tea. There is a crafting book stocked with DIY supplies it's downright witchy with homemade SAVs, creams, butters and bombs aromatherapy remedies. Below a basement for wine racks a chest freezer, we grow our own mushrooms. Upstairs there is a dressing room connected to the bedroom. Nothing fancy here. Queen size bed reading milk and meditation cushion. Deep Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom for therapeutic soaks a guest room or two on the first floor next to the library slash office. So both my girls can stay perhaps a nursery for the children they told me they don't want to have.


This is the first time I've imagined anyone else in the house. It's not that I want to live alone. I just got so used to no one telling me what to do. And empty nests not so bad once you get used to it. Well, technically dad's upstairs. I never would have imagined after my parents divorced when I was three that I would live with my dad again until I was 17. I didn't think I'd ever see him again. My sister lives five minutes away. My boyfriend's even closer. Fuji cat is my familiar. But that's the present and we were talking about the future.


Most days will be quiet My home will be peaceful. There will be sound subtle speakers strategically placed so I can walk from one room to the next and not miss a word of the podcast. In my house you are encouraged to sing. You can dance if you want to. The living room is large enough for small gatherings with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the woods and water. Lots of carpets and pillows and blankets and had of course, off to the side musical instruments and a corridor that leads to the fitness room. Beyond yoga, cycling, dancing and weight training. This is where we hold rehearsals.


There's got to be an East facing window where I can watch the sunrise most days. This is where I'll drink my coffee before sitting down to work. Retirement I've always thought is when the real work will begin. At 51 I've already accumulated a lifetime of evidence, photos and videos, documents to be organized and sorted their sense to be made of random scraps and scrawling if I were to perish, now my daughters would hate me for the mess I'd be leaving behind. There are journals dating back to seventh grade college coursework and 15 years worth of electric city newspapers, theater programs and event souvenirs.


There aren't enough shelves for all my books, and I've got clothes for every occasion in sizes six through 14 artwork hangs in every room and that's just the good stuff. I should have a yard sale, but I fear the haggling. Strangers can't see the value of our memories. I hesitate to put a price tag on my life's experience. Mom has begun giving things away at 72. She's got more than a few years left to live but she's tired of the stuff that's accumulated. And so the three foot high brass candlesticks from Thailand she and my father bought before I was born will be mine. As soon as I get down there to pick them up. She said they need to be polished. Dad said he'll help. Don't tell. There are pictures to pass on Nana's China and dot silverware. Once home was the nine foot brown leather sofa where my sister and I slept in the back of Ryder truck when we left California in 1979.


Kudos to mom for getting that beast up the stairs in Northampton and later into the house and Madisonville it's gone now, but this memory reinforces the bond. Home is where my sister is. There's a version of the dream that Stacy and I share she calls it the property. There's room for everyone there. A farm and cafe where we serve homemade bread and soup salads, dessert and tea, whatever we can grow a gift shop to sell whatever we can make. There is like Dan and Jenny's wonder barn, a stage for performances. But this is Stacy's vision to and I cannot recall all of the exquisite details she's designed. You should ask her some time when you see her. I'm sure she'd love to share.


The Interview

Tonyehn

Thank you, Alicia for sharing your dream space, I would love to think I'd be invited and I damn sure would like to create a space like that of my own. There was a couple of things that you said during the story. I love the fact that you were talking about space for everyone in the kitchen and you kept using the word Wii. And I was thinking, Who is the mysterious Wii. But then you went back to say that you always thought of your retirement as being alone. So I wondered, when that change happened. The fact that you were writing in we but then you had this memory of thinking that that would be a space where you'd be alone.


Alicia

I don't know how to answer that. I think that I want to make room in my life for other people always whether or not they're actually there. Day by day, moment to moment is another question. I do like the peace of being in my house by myself. Now. I didn't. Because that never happened. I never lived alone until I was old. Not that I'm old. But until recently, right Francis moved out 2021 There was always someone there. And now there's not and it's kind of nice. So but I other people are obviously where it's at.


Tonyehn

Right? You're obviously creating a welcoming space for other people. Right? And then you do talk about your children being there and potential nonexisting grant.


Alicia

I just refuse to believe that it won't happen. I get it. No birth control is echoed.


Tonyehn

So you also talk about taking a tour of the potential and I like the idea of what this can be. And also in relationship to when you said that you've studied the Dharma, how to be happy. And I'm wondering where the Dharma fits into that potential of what life can be. And do you feel that the studying of the Dharma has been working?


Alicia

Yes. So for example, I have a lot of plants already, maybe not the landscape that I'm describing here, but I have them and I water them, and I care for them. And I do it in a mindful way where I'm thinking about what it means to be alive and grow and soak in the sun and keep it simple. Yeah,


Tonyehn

I like that you brought up the plants, because I found it very interesting that you talked about plants before possessions in building your space, and that it kind of documents a history of where you've been through plant life, rather than possessions because most people create their history through objects, not plants. And I wondered why plants were the first thing that came to mind.


Alicia

I think because they've been a goal of mine for a long time, and not something that I was able, I wasn't able to keep them alive. Plants that I've loved and lost. And I think during the pandemic, I kind of had more time to spend at home and I got a hang of where to put them and where the sun was good, and how to make that an important part of my space. And I think there's something in even just the oxygen that plants add to the room that help me


Tonyehn

Yeah, but they could also it was sort of be a part of the collective we because they are living things.


Alicia

Yes. Right? Do you feel that life energy from them.


Tonyehn

And one of the other things I appreciated was the fact that you talk about color a lot. Even in describing the spice rack, you say it's organized in a rainbow of color, but then you have this idea of DIY space to create. So it's this bringing art into the living fabric of your home. And I was just wondering if you could share what art means to you, because you talk about it quite a few times.


Alicia

Art is the potential art is how we make sense of life. And I love that I have other people's artwork. And there's a story behind each piece and a person behind each piece that felt something when they were making it that what that would say they gave to me, but I mean, I bought some of them. But still, that is in it. I think there's a spirit in that artwork. And it reminds me to be creative and imagine things through other people's eyes.


Tonyehn

So you talk about your accumulation of lifetime evidence. There's the pieces that are the artwork, and the photos, etc. But then you also talk about the journals dating back to seventh grade college coursework and 15 years worth of electric city newspapers. These are the items that your children would hate for which I can agree. How do you feel that you're going to eventually dispose of those things? And what part of the evidence do you keep to pass down?


Alicia

A lot of it I've already done something with and I don't even know it that can be thrown out. Some of it needs to be donated to the historical society, because I think that there's a lot of art memorabilia from the local area that I would like to be preserved somehow, for whoever comes after us. There are things I don't remember, which I will need to decide if I want to remember or not. And if not get rid of it. Miranda is an artist, my oldest daughter, and so I don't know what she might want yet. She might have some idea for turning things into something else. So I'll give her that option. But hopefully I'll get to go through it before they get to it.


Tonyehn

And when you think about your mother starting to get rid of her stuff, does that inspire you at all? And are there particular objects besides the candlesticks that you think you'd like to bring into your new potential home?


Alicia

I told her don't throw away the photos and anything that's like old that belonged to my grandmother or her mother or my great aunts. That stuff we want to keep everything else I don't really she could do whatever she wants with it.


Tonyehn

And you speak a lot about woods and water and I couldn't help but wonder if you or have a particular location in mind?


Alicia

Yes, there's a piece I actually didn't put in here, because I wasn't sure that's where I wanted to go. But it used to be Lake jaw, which is an holmesdale, which my aunt actually owns that property. Now my mom used to own it. And it was sort of teased at one point of time, I'll come back east, Alicia, you can have the lake and I think that's when I started to imagine this place that would be there. But then, it really wasn't my mom's to give away because my stepfather didn't think we were responsible. And she or he was probably right. I don't know. At that time, we were pretty young.


Tonyehn

I love the idea of going back to this historical location that also is part of the evidence of your life. And when you think about what you leave behind, what do you think is the most important part of your evidence that you'd like to share?


Alicia

Just good memories. I hope people will have things moments that time that we spent together things that we did together experiences, memories, you know, of some day where good things happened, and we were in the moment and appreciated being alive. I hope that I will leave those in people's brains.


Tonyehn

Well, the fact that you're creating this space for all it's obviously a place to create memories, but I think you can do that whether you're in this potential space, or the one here now


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