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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Domestic Goddess...????

During the first 3 days in the apartment I already felt so safe, so at home and I loved being here. I was still cleaning, settling, sorting and ridding this place of Mike C and putting my own personal stamp on it. Everyday I was tackling one room, giving it my own personal touch. By Saturday (after 4 days) I was down to the last room, the kitchen. I’d saved the best for last! And holy moly, this was a job and a half. It took me from 8 in the morning, till 8 in the evening to complete this task…

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to say that Mike C was dirty, but he obviously didn’t care to get right into the heart of the grime that’s been accumulating in the kitchen in particular, probably for years. But I did care to get into the heart of the dirt.

I ended up spending the whole day getting the kitchen into the state I wanted it to be in, by clearing it out, scrubbing every inch, polishing the necessities and even equipping it with new bits and bobs. Man, it was a brilliant step. Never before have I ever done anything like this! I then actually went out to buy all these little things that I otherwise would never dream of buying… Suddenly it was like: Niamh, are you seriously setting up a home, here in Jinzhou, all by yourself and buying a chopping board, tea towels, cleaning essentials and even a mop???!!!! Yes, you are…

In between cleaning, I took a break and went to the supermarket/department store. I walked around with my trolley getting fuller and fuller and had to laugh at myself… I never thought I’d reach a stage here in China, where household objects would be my main focus, whilst walking around a supermarket. I always associated anything that was for the home as being unnecessary and a waste of money. But, during that supermarket visit I was only too happy to spend and to buy… Okay, let’s keep it real, in China it’s as cheap as chips to equip your home with little bits and pieces that make life more convenient. So, it wasn’t about the expense, it was about what I was actually DOING. All by myself! I was setting up a home, as I walked around the supermarket and filled my trolley with these items. And, my dear mother was with me all the way! She was ever so proud of me… seeing how I too could be a domestic goddess just like her! I learnt from the best I guess…

When I was finished with the kitchen, on Saturday night, I truly felt that I’d come home. Every inch of the apartment has now got my stamp on it! For however long this pad is meant to be mine, it has my mark on it. Saturday night it was as if a weight had been lifted and I was able to breathe. I’d worked so hard getting it into shape, without taking any of the help others had offered me during my first days, and I did it all by myself.

I now have every room set-up the way I want. I don’t have a tv. All I have is my laptop, for the occasional movie and the constant music. The spare bedroom is my ‘creation-station’. I have my painting gear set up in there, which is something I’ve wanted to focus on for so long. In the living room have a library! Yes! A bookcase, with the books Mike C left behind, as well as some of my own. As well I’ve got 2 of the most impressive leather chairs that are in front of the massive window overlooking the streets of Jinzhou. The whole feel of this apartment: wooden floors, along with the bookcase, the desk, the window and the absent telly, makes it feel as though I’ve created a home with one thing as my main focus: to write. I’ve created a writers’ environment! Yes! Or maybe it already WAS a writers’ environment before I arrived, but I’m only really getting a feel for it now.

When I’m here, it’s all I can do: write. There’s nothing to distract me. No tv, no people. When I need distraction, I can have it… I know where to get it, because I have a life outside of this apartment too… Here is just where I can home into myself. And with that I’ll always be in the position to give all I can, in the work and social scene too.

As I was getting all domestic and loving every minute of it, I had moments of wondering: “What the hell am I doing?” “Do I really want to do this?” And, the fact that I was loving it, meant I DID want to do this. I wondered though: am I now settled and will I never travel again? Of course I’ll travel again! Saturday afternoon, as I was on my hand and knees getting rid of the grime that was baked into the cupboards and the kitchen floor, I’m still telling myself: “Yes Niamh, when the time is right, you’ll be putting your backpack on your back and you’ll be off”. It won’t be for another while, but it will happen again. I tried not to panic for doing something I never said was ‘me’: setting up a home. But, for now, it’s what I need. Especially as I realize that I’ve created a writers’ apartment.

When I first came to China, I wanted my China experience to revolve around writing and now I can see that it’s all coming together. I wanted for my book to be doing the ‘work’ it’s meant to be doing, by the time it comes for me to leave. And the book can only do its work, when I put in the extra work too. This extra work I can only do when I’m in the right surroundings. And I’ve found those surroundings now… Here in my new home! I can put in the work and eventually what this year in China is meant to be about, will happen. To write and to focus, a person needs peace and space. I’m finding my peace now and the teaching only gives me the perfect balance to stay connected to China and what it has to offer me.

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