minimalism is for empty people.

i used to think that.

in new york, upon entering the moderately-dusty, book-cluttered apartment of an aging intellect, i felt at home. these people were kin. they had ingenious and creative ways of maximizing space. their collected treasures insulated one against the external noise of New York. they would eventually die peacefully, accompanied by their old cat, and then the apartment would be emptied, renovated, and rented for three times the price to someone who shopped at IKEA. it was the way of things. But for the moment, to know one of these old souls, especially one who’d let me visit as often as i liked, was a gift.

That was an interesting time in my life and in my fields of industry, i often found myself in these minimalist, ultra-hip apartments as well – the kind that when people refer to “architectural photography”, these were that. Broad and lofty, they were posh and spotless with expensive, meaningless art on the walls and hard, angular furniture, beyond all scope of possibility for me in both price and environment. i tended to hug the front door in these places. Even in heels, a power suit and a leather bikini, my hair pulled severely back for the role, i feared leaving a trail of dust and reality.

now i live in a 500 or so square foot cabin in a massive northern Californian county that has less people in all of it than the town my mother lives in. I share with my five year old daughter.

i could live minimally. i live in an “outdoor lifestyle” sort of place with woods and trees all around and technically, i should be getting rid of shit and living in the yard, or even perhaps the surrounding wilderness, where i could set up a camp for the summer and save myself $750 a month for a while. I could, I could do this if I didn’t have stuff. Simplicity is supposed to be best in all things. Your child’s brain is supposed to fare better with less, too.

My daughter and i like books though, and good ones make their way to me. someone feeds our local Humane Society’s shelves well. My daughter, she likes art, and art supplies gravitate toward her. How in the hell do you pare down art supplies for a five year old (there’s something terrifying in that, like what if I stole Picasso’s favorite medium and he just never happened)? I have a collection of musical instruments, some of which get played and some of which don’t, but are still very much a part of the family. We like clothes. We thrift them, and we like them.

There is a dog, and there is a cat.

There is stuff and dust and plants and comfort in here, and I guess this is as simple as it gets for me for now.