I think about the domestic space a lot as a way to resist the professional space. In a big city, it’s easy to forget that we live in homes because we call them apartments. In fact, I think someone corrected me the other day when I asked them if they were heading home for the night instead of asking them if they were heading back to their apartment. In a lot of ways, ‘home’ is the place we left for New York. Your apartment is a place of functionality that you dress up in to emote a distinction between someone else’s 850 square foot box and yours. We never take the same time and care into our living spaces as we do our professional or institutional spaces. We see our homes as a place to lie down at the end of the day, but not always a primary place of memory.
For me, my getting over the shame of my home allowed me to realize how fortunate I am to have a foundation that was situated in the domestic. No matter who came through our doors, we treated them as if they were family. We offered them what we had because we knew what it felt like to be on the opposite side of that interaction. What’s more, I think that folks who have a migrant history (as my family does) take a specific type of pride in their living space. The walls do trap smells of winter spice and flour particles. The curry hugs your clothes in ways you would rather live without. But in any case it makes a strong impression on you. The meals that we had in our living rooms varied time to time. My mother was as excited to pull out here crystal for the holidays as she was to have perfected a stuffed fish held in place by toothpicks she learned to not burn by pre-soaking them before baking. There is something here, too, about the help-yourself-to-a-plate style table. Leaving an assortment of offerings out in banquet form.
An alter to memory and the spirit of generosity.
Xx DeVonn Francis