Have you ever seen the movie “Out of Africa”? It like many epic movies was an incredible book first. This autobiographical account of Karen Blixen’s life was originally published in 1937. Her words weave the tale of her life, loves and struggles while running a coffee plantation in Africa. The movie adaptation was bounced around Hollywood for decades but finally made it to the big screen in 1985. It starred Meryl Streep and Robert Redford and won seven Academy Awards while also receiving tons of other accolades. It was a big deal. I think I saw it on VHS when I was thirteen. It was beautifully filmed and of course the acting was spot on. Come on we’re talking Meryl Steep the queen of submersion acting and, Robert Redford a babe in his day (wait, he’s still a babe, who am I kidding). So here you have the stunning savannahs of africa, the fabulous acting and the cinematography all going on but, that’s not what I remembered most about the movie. I remember watching this aristocratic woman move from Denmark to British East Africa with all her worldly belongings in tow. She had a lot of them. I remember Meryl Streep’s character describe how she didn’t feel complete unless she had her things about her. She drew comfort from the familiarity of her China, her linens, her furniture and her objects d’art. I get it. I got her. Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt. In this case it gave the heroine a sense of normalcy and comfort she likely craved while being far from home living on an untamed continent. In a devastating twist of fate our heroine lost everything in a plantation fire. I can relate.
For a month this summer,after my house fire, I lived at the Marriott Residence Inn. I had a very functional room. Really it was more like a little apartment complete with a kitchenette, living area and bed room. It was, with the exception for the bed, very comfortable. It just wasn’t my home. I missed my things. I missed my familiar.
Have I ever mentioned I’m a fancy farm girl? So in true Holly fashion I didn’t just sit in my semi comfortable room and feel sorry for myself. I unpacked my suitcase and took stock of my personal belongings. I went through my souvenir loot bag while also making mental notes. I chose some of my ‘object d’art’ to place around the room. I ran to Wal-Mart and got a cheap vase and placed sunflowers on it. I developed some vacation photos for framing. My sister-in-law painted Emma an owl on canvas. This cute picture went on her night stand along with her journal and stuffed animals. I bought Cole a funny little book and placed it on the coffee table for his enjoyment. He was the sofa sleeper boy for the month.
It never felt like home but it did feel better to interject some of myself into the hotel room’s generic environment. I kept it tidy. I kept fresh flowers on the table. I made sure there was green tea along with chocolate truffles for a nightly treat. There was scented soap (courtesy of my friend Jennifer) in the tub. There were snacks for my kids in the fridge. It was a temporary home. I was satisfied.
I was reminded of that long ago movie while looking a Pinterest one afternoon. I was hanging out with my Dad. He and Mom were staying in the room directly across from mine. I showed him the pic I had been studying. We talked about my memory of the movie. He remembered the movie vaguely and he certainly didn’t remember it for the reasons I did. He got it though. He gets me. We talked a bit longer and he said that sounds like something you may want to journal about. I thought so too.
daisies, coffee and chocolates,