I moved a lot as a kid; I’ve moved a lot as an adult. I thought of myself as fairly accustomed, numbed, even, to the whole process of sorting a life into boxes and starting over. But with the exception of the last of my childhood houses, the apartment pictured here was the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place (October 2017 to March 2023). So when my partner and I decided it was time to leave, it was a fresh heartbreak all over again. Something Emil said to me helped a lot, though: “The things that made it home were the things we brought to it and built over time. We can do it again.” I’m writing this story, then, not only to say goodbye, but also hello again soon.
One thing that strikes me as I look back on these photos is the gradual but marked shedding of stuff. Certainly—let’s be real—there’s off-screen, unphotogenic storage going on here: a large shelf full of old journals to the right, an art supply cart under the table. But even taking these secret stashes into account, I simply kept less and less on hand over time.
You know those lifestyle listicles that are always titled something along the lines of “54 Life Hacks For Decorating A Small Apartment”? They’re often copy-pasted from several different sources and chock full of contradictory advice. But there’s a few gems, like: “Make sure the things you have out are truly meaningful to you”. I definitely took that to heart, choosing in later years to rotate out art prints, plants and tchotchkes (instead of trying to keep them all visible at the same time), and letting the strong, dramatic sun and shade from the windows take center stage. They say to travel light, but it’s good to sit light, too.
Beyond decor, though, many lessons were learned from this simple desk. We came to this building from a much darker, crowded and frankly depressing one, so from the moment we arrived I was determined to keep this workspace unburdened, clean, open. That meant organizing, sure. But it also meant becoming the kind of person who could maintain that space: one with the discipline to clear the desk at the end of each workday, to clean up every ink spill before it could stain, to patiently monitor the plants and learn which spots each type needed to be in order to get the right amount of sun to eat.
Not that I learned these lessons to perfection. At times, after particularly messy or drawn-out projects, weeks would go by before my desk was anywhere close to clean. I’m a far more chaotic painter than the photos I post may imply. And the very strongest pangs of guilt I feel while looking at these pictures have to do with the plants that exist only within them, due to heatwaves or neglect (RIP to my kodama and peperomia rosso).
Still, whatever good work habits I did manage to form, whatever consistency I did build, was probably boosted and helped along by having an intentional, comfortable space to experiment in. For all of that and more, I have this space to thank. Without getting too maudlin, let’s do that now. Thank you for every new leaf that unfurled on our houseplants. Thank you for the breezes and the various singing of rain. Thank you for the gorgeous, blazing southwestern afternoons, even if it was a legitimate health hazard during the summer months. Thank you for showing me the local crows see-sawing on the very tip-tops of the neighbor’s cypress trees. And thank you most of all for the stable surface and bright walls which made my creative work of the last five years possible, delightful.
I’ll end with this quote by Colette (courtesy of poet Dr. Maya C. Popa’s twitter ), which I saw during the thick of moving and which gave me much comfort and resolve:
I love my past, I love my present.
I am not ashamed of what I have had,
and I am not sad because I no longer have it.
Text and photos by: A.C. Esguerra
Where to find A.C. : instagram @blueludebar
Read other stories by A.C. : Here
Bk Artifacts Featured: