Houses and flats

The days get longer. The temperature is creeping up. But best of all, the sun has come out. I find myself at last dragging myself out of the winter lethargy that has gripped me these last months. Not that we have been inactive… we have actually been very busy. Just that it has been so cold, wet and miserable that whenever I think of blogging I find nothing in my mind but grey mush.

We moved to a house 6 weeks ago. I have realised that I am more of a house person than an apartment person. I like the space. I like the relative solitude. We have realised at the same time that Maria is more of a “flat” person. She loves having people all around all the time. And she loves the fact that flat living means more time to just hang out. So the change of scenery has not been without its tensions and frictions. But we are settling in slowly, and even Maria can see some of the advantages.

The house has turned out to be more work than we imagined. But it is coming slowly together, thanks to the unending renovation drive of Maria’s semi-retired father, who has been fixing and painting and wallpapering since before we moved in. The next big project is a deck, a verandah, to enjoy in summer… ahhh summer!

Cycling home today I realised that there are surely more people in this country who live in flats than houses. I flashed past seemingly endless rows of boxes. And more are going up all the time. The image of Sweden may be a red and white wooden house by a lake in the forest, but the reality is that most Swedes experience that only for a few weeks a year, many not even that much. The rest of the time they are in their little box in the city somewhere. Or in the country… even small towns have lots of flats.

Flats appeal to a certain part of me. They make sense. People living in closer proximity must surely speak to each other more. Flats are more efficient and environmentally friendly. They take up less space in a crowded world. But they lack something… they are so uniform, so functional, so boring, at least outwardly. Houses are messy, eccentric, which is much more me.

So we live in a house now. A nice change, for me at least. But better than any house is the wonder of sunshine breaking through the seemingly endless grey skies of winter…


2 thoughts on “Houses and flats

  1. “People living in closer proximity must surely speak to each other more.”

    Sadly, in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Living in medium-density town houses like Sarah and I do, it is excrutiatingly difficult to break through into people’s real lives. It’s perverse. It’s almost as though the closer the housing, the less notice people seem to take of each other (outwardly at least). You almost have to stand in someone’s way to get them to look up, let alone exchange a customary greeting.

    Curtains are always drawn, no-one sits out the front of their houses, people have remote control garage doors so that they don’t even have to risk greeting someone as they cross the three metres from their car door to the front door of their house.

    Perhaps if we lived on an acreage in the country, people would at least wave as you drove past them.


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