On Saturday, after almost five years on the East Coast, I left Baltimore. On the plane ride to Seattle, I penned a love letter on my iPad to my house on Lafayette Avenue, my home for almost four years. It’s a beautiful 19th-century rowhouse – tall, stately, well-crafted and elegant – the likes of which do not exist on the West Coast. I love that house like none I’ve ever lived in before and will miss it immensely. Honestly, I’m getting teary-eyed as I write. When thinking about leaving Baltimore, the one thing that gave me pause was the thought of leaving that house.
On Monday, I lost my iPad. I hadn’t backed up my letter to the cloud yet, so my letter was also lost. I am writing another one, which I hope will be as good as the one fresh from the pain of my parting, but until then, this:
We seem divided between an urge to override our senses and numb ourselves to our settings and a contradictory impulse to acknowledge the extent to which our identities are indelibly connected to, and will shift along with, our locations. An ugly room can coagulate any loose suspicions as to the incompleteness of life, while a sun-lit one set with honey-coloured limestone tiles can lend support to whatever is the most hopeful within us.
Belief in the significance of architecture is premised on the notion that we are, for better or worse, different people in different places – and on the conviction that it is architecture’s task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be. – Alain de Botton in The Architecture of Happiness