I used to have a house in Orlando. Well, not actually have… I rented. It had three bedrooms and a two car garage, a fenced-in backyard and some of the kindest neighbors you could ever ask for. I had a dog – a lovely 90-pound Rottweiler – and a boyfriend of five years. It was the real suburban dream.
And I gave it all up.
It was 2007, and I was 23-years old. Far too young to be “playing house,” and just realizing that the white picket fence scenario felt more like a death trap. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, it just wasn’t for me.
This is when my international travel really took off. I applied to design schools, and moved to London to attend the prestigious Chelsea College of Art & Design. Not satisfied with just one overseas address, I then finished a second design degree in Paris. And I kept moving, kept traveling. I went as far as Melbourne, Australia to work with a boutique design firm there, and tried New Zealand on for size.
In the eight or so years since I first gave up that States-side permanent address, I’ve grown up. I’m now back on my home turf in Florida (a place I never thought I’d end up) and I’m putting down some roots. Or at least some semblance of a home base.
I can now officially say I have a home in Fort Lauderdale.
It’s a rental, of course. Wouldn’t want to go too crazy. My wandering ways haven’t abated – I just prefer to have a comfortable spot of my own at which to unpack from time to time. And to host any visitors who might be keen to check out my little corner of the world.
But first, a little tour.
The Vu New River apartment building sits right in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, on the New River. One direction looks towards the ocean, the other to the city. Not knocking the beach, but I chose the riverside view. Can you blame me?
But let’s step inside.
I must confess, I’ve had quite a bit of fun applying my design skills to my own space. It’s the first time since I graduated design school that I have been in the position to actually buy my own things – usually I’m in some foreign country, renting but not finding it worth the cost to invest in making the place my own. This place is a different story.
While most of what I am filling my new home with is new (and some on back order, such as the sofa…) there are elements with more history tucked away as well. I have the silver pieces I bought from the market on Portobello Road in London when I lived there. I have a piece of copper art – a girl with her horse – that was made special for me by my old horse trainer’s artist husband. My best friend who traveled to London with me made coasters out of photos of my old passport pages. I have my own workspace, and my favorite reading material is within easy reach.
And I have tokens of an even more personal nature. When my grandparents on my mother’s side passed (my dad’s parents are thankfully still with us), us grandkids were able to sort through their things and take anything that we held particularly dear. While there were memories connected to almost every object, we equally distributed everything among all of us. My plates in this apartment are from my grandparent’s kitchen, as is the silverware set. I have the ceramic umbrella holder that used to sit by their front door, it’s Chinese artwork suiting perfectly my love for travel. And I have the antiques mirror tray on which my grandmother used to keep her perfume, and where I now keep mine.
All these keepsakes are rooted in where I come from and where I’ve been. They turn this brand new apartment into my home.
And then of course there’s the view…
I spend hours out on my balcony, sipping tea in the mornings and wine in the evenings, watching the life of the river below. And while Fort Lauderdale is not Paris, or London or Melbourne, it has a vibe of its own. The beach is a short distance away, and everyone seems to travel by boat in the “Venice of America.” Las Olas Boulevard has some fantastic spots, and I can walk to all of it.
Overall, I must say I’m impressed with my first permanent address in the United States in almost eight years. It’s coming together, and the rest of the furniture isn’t that far off from arriving.
You never know, I might just end up staying here awhile. Cheers guys!