By Caitlin Kelly
I love novelty and new adventures, exploring places I’ve never been, meeting people for the first time. I really crave it and miss it…Covid made this much more obvious to me since it denied so much of this, and still does.
But, like many/most people, I also take tremendous comfort in the familiar, maybe much more these days — of climate grief, political vitriol, daily mayhem and violence, inflation — than ever.
I’ve now lived in the same one-bedroom apartment for more than 30 years.
I find this truly astonishing, as I changed homes/residences between August 1982 and June 1989 so many times: Toronto-Paris-Toronto-Montreal-New Hampshire-New York. It was overwhelming and exhausting, even though my Paris year was the best of my life, still.
I hate moving!
I also was lucky enough to be able to buy this apartment with my first husband, and afford to remain in it, in a place — 25 miles north of Manhattan, its towers clearly visible from our street — where rents are routinely punishingly high. Having a fixed mortgage and maintenance costs allowed me this privilege.
Our next-door neighbor on one side moved in with a shy five-year-old daughter, now a stylish, confident 15-year-old. The other neighbor, Flo, died there, and now her grand-daughter — and 4-month-old daughter — lives there. It’s been a real joy to see new lives and friends arriving.
I recently inherited a few items from my late mother, including the images above, and a few smaller decorative items. It’s so lovely and comforting to have that visual continuity. I’d never inherited objects before so I’d never appreciated that element of it.
every one of her homes. I very lightly bleached it and reframed it in acid-free paper with special glass to protect it. Now it hangs in our kitchen.
I love our street. It’s hilly and winding, with a low-level condo complex across, only one private home and lots and lots of trees. It’s normally extremely quiet — and we have terrific Hudson River views. I can’t think what better view we could acquire.
Nor has it changed one bit in all those years.
I love our town, a mix of million-dollar condo’s and projects (subsidized housing.) It’s a mix of old school townies, born and raised here, and a stampede of Brooklyn hipsters.
I like our county, stretching between the Hudson to the west and Long Island Sound to the east.
I like knowing where things are and that some of them are still there.
I like knowing the guy who owns the hardware store, the one his great-grandfather founded. And the former commercial photographer from Manhattan, who came north after 9/11, and who first opened a gourmet store, now a thriving restaurant and whose wife added a busy BBQ joint.
I like knowing the names of the waitstaff at our local diner and hearing their news.
It’s that sort of town.
I’m also lucky to have deep friendships, still, in my hometown of Toronto, so there’s always a loving welcome awaiting, even decades after I left for good. That’s comforting.
I also find it comforting to watch some of the same movies over and over, so much so I know some dialogue and theme music by heart — the Bourne movies, The Devil Wears Prada, Almost Famous, The King’s Speech, All The President’s Men, Billy Elliott, Casablanca, Spotlight and others. I also re-watch some TV series I love, now enjoying the three-season Babylon Berlin on Netflix for the third time — Season Four starts October 8 and I am super excited! And Derry Girls returns October 7.
Not to mention my older favorite music, from my 80s vinyl and my new favorite radio station, Kiki Lounge (132) on Sirius XM, with some of the most unlikely covers — like (amazing!) Dolly Parton’s version of Stairway to Heaven.
I was deeply struck — as maybe some of you were — by the death of Queen Elizabeth. As I’ve written here, I spent two weeks covering a Royal Tour of Canada and met her. To suddenly lose her after 70 years was a shock.
The familiar is comforting. Change can be tiring and disorienting (even if welcome.)
What do you cherish in your life that’s comforting in its familiarity?