2014: Home & Heart

How’s your year? Are you ready for 2015?

Looking back on 2014 – what were some of your proudest moments, happiest memories, biggest surprises?

Personally – my happiest memories and proudest moments have been inseparable from the biggest surprise – we moved out of New York!

Don’t get me wrong, I love New York. Frankly, I never thought I’d move out of the city just like I never thought I’d get married.

In my blog Moving Out of New York, I talked about why my husband and I decided to move out of the Big Apple shortly after our wedding in the Fall of 2013. Our decision to move out of Manhattan was really about a change in our work and life style. We both have had long and rewarding careers. Mine was in the media, his was in the academe after Wall Street. Now, we want to re-configure our lives together in a place and at a pace that foster balance, health and well-being for ourselves, and giving back to our community.

Truth be told – before I met my husband in the Spring of 2013, my heart lay outside my home.

It belonged to the pursuit of interesting stories and fascinating people while working as an American network news producer. It also belonged to the pursuit of adventures and escapades around the world as a perpetually curious explorer eager to discover different ways of living, thinking and being.

But 2014 – my first year of marriage – has been packed  with more trips that were closer to home, and closer to heart.

We started in the Spring looking for a new home in Cambridge, MA – home to our alma mater, home to our first “hello”, home to our intellectual and spiritual enquiry.  We thought we’d settle for a condominium or a townhouse, but after three months of looking and losing numerous bids in this fiercely competitive real estate market, we ended up buying a single family house last Summer in the tiny yet blossoming multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-faceted community of Inman Square, nestled between Harvard and MIT.2014-06-17 10.48.562014-07-01 08.47.08

Neither the academic life and community nor the quaint and quiet environment of Cambridge was new to me, but I had never lived in a house before in my life – let alone a six-room two-story historic dwelling built in 1886!  Yet, the first moment we set foot into the newly vacated house last June, a sense of serenity swept over me. Almost instantly, my heart settled down. In a matter of days, our new house became a cozy home where my traveling heart wants to live.

In the months to come, I found myself obsessed with shopping for home furniture and fragrances, sorting through and tossing out our boxes of collectibles (books, notes, pictures, cards and gifts) that we’ve hoarded over the years. The mountain of memorabilia of our youth speaks volumes of our mental and emotional attachments. Unpacking all of that helped us de-couple from the baggage of our individual past as we were coming together as a married couple in our new home. We began to understand each other in a deeper way as we heard each other’s stories behind these treasures. Every time we talked exhaustively about what to keep, what to let go, which picture to hang in our bedroom or living room, we came closer to understanding our hearts.

An understanding heart is perhaps the single most important element of a happy marriage. It’s especially important in our case because we bring to our relationship cultural and generational differences that tend to magnify in the home – ranging from eating, sleeping, working habits, reading and entertainment preferences, to last but not least – our communication style, verbal and non-verbal.

But 2014 was the first year that we had begun to take giant steps towards building our nest and our marriage. I’m grateful for this amazing year that’s not only taken us twice to Hong Kong, once to London, countless times to New York but also safely back to our home in Cambridge. I can say now that home is where my heart is, and it is very sweet.

Mable, New York

Mable Chan

Mable Chan is the founder of China Personified. Her contact is mablechan@chinapersonified.com.