I have, consecutively, owned six homes in Silicon Valley. Despite its mixed reputation as a place to live, I love it for its delightful weather; broad racial, ethnic, and religious diversity; and wide range of terrains with enticing hiking trails. This is where I attended graduate school at the age of twenty-five, where I married and had my two children, and where I established my career. I have deep roots here, although my family tree’s branches all extend through one small area on the other side of the country, reaching back into the 1800s.
The homes I’ve owned have ranged from a pre-fab house on a dead-end street to one that looked like a cross between an elephant and a warehouse. Some neighborhoods were more interesting than others, with none more interesting than where I live now.
I’ve had nurturing places to live that stopped being nurturing, due to what we euphemistically refer to as “major life changes.” And so I moved on. Other moves were like an accordion playing a well-known tune: children born, children in school, children leaving for college and home for holidays, children living on their own, children coming back home for a year or so at a time. I’ve upsized and downsized a few times as our family’s accordion has played on over the decades.
As I’ve been reflecting on my string of homes, I realize that a large part of the reason why I love where I live is that it nourishes me. I know the checklist of characteristics that led to purchasing my home, but the sensory experience of the place is almost ineffable, though I frequently find myself trying to find words that capture the feel of the place.
I cherish solitude, and the quiet gives me a way to think—to think deeply at times. It’s an easy house in which to be mindful as I cook, sew, garden, and write. I write in my office and take visual breaks to look out the window to see native gardens that I designed and maintain. Native species of birds, bees, and butterflies enjoy their garden restaurant, where the menu is seasonal and colorful.
I confess that I could use a kitchen twice the size of mine, but only because I can get carried away with my passion for cooking dishes from a variety of cultural cuisines. Although my kitchen refuses to hold all of my pantry goods and small appliances, I will not change it because my passion for cooking found its voice there. My kitchen holds precious memories of many hundreds of dishes that have challenged my skills and then rewarded me with enticing combinations of colors, aromas, and flavors.
Each of us has our own happy place. My home is only one of mine, but it is certainly my happiest place. Each of us has distinct needs and reasons for loving a place. Mine are fairly simple: My home and I are faithful partners, whether that is my kitchen when I’m cooking, my office when I’m writing, or my gardens when I need to feel closer to nature.