Ten years ago I moved to New Zealand. Well, I didn’t so much move there as go there with a backpack and a sleeping bag. I ended up staying for two years and, yes, it’s an incredible place.
In the months before I went to Kiwi-land I got two jobs, prepared to do my last acting gig (the decision to stop being an actor, which I’ve talked about here, had prompted my move) and generally tidied up my life. Now, while I’m not quite one of those scary hoarder people you see on tv I do have a habit of keeping things. Books, cds, china cups, old jewellry that a boyfriend gave me fifteen years ago (that I never wore to start with, yet still I kept it), shells, stones… and every card that anyone wrote me, ever. So, I found myself with a backpack and a trailer-load of … stuff..
Thus began the winnowing. Books were the big deal. I aimed to get rid of two hundred, and I did. I boxed up what I loved, sold what I could, and gave the rest to charity shops. Then I got rid of a hundred more. I culled my clothes, threw lots out, and put everything in storage in my parents’ attic, along with the boxes of books (which somehow included three copies of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) duvets, towels, a bookcase, wooden spoons. Lots. Of. Stuff.
I lived happily in NZ for those two years with what I’d brought with me on my back. But since coming home I’ve built a house and filled it with more stuff. There is something so comforting in expressing who you are through the things of beauty you surround yourself with. I love art on my walls. Old china on the shelf. I love music. I am addicted to fabrics, textures, colours.
But here’s the thing – I also crave going away, travelling light. And when I do that, the rooms I live in are empty. Where I am now in Berlin there’s a table and two chairs, a bed and a lamp. I love it. I love the space it gives me to think, the feeling of air around me. And I love that no matter how shy you might feel you meet people all the time when you travel. (You might, for instance, end up sitting in a café talking to the owner after closing time about art and passion and creativity as an expression of the divine…)
So I think what might happen is this: I’ll keep coming home to my people and my books, and I’ll also keep going away again, following the bliss of a quiet and unknown horizon. Isn’t that another way to hang art on the walls of your heart?