I Am (Home) - This American Girl

camille willemain


I am sitting here writing to you from my new home.


The first space I have called mine in more than a year.


My eyes scan the room and I envision a fresh coat of white paint, Moroccan textiles, and tropical leaves leaning in tall glass vases.


Puerto Viejo House


I imagine stacks of big glossy books

rows of colorful vintage cocktail glasses

piles of textural pillows

walls of carefully curated art


and I feel compelled to transform this space that surrounds me.


Camille willemain


I wonder if they sell cozy white bedding in nearby Limon?

It couldn’t hurt to visit a fabric store in San Jose…

Perhaps the owner will let me paint if I show her my portfolio.


Little corn


I see myself in pearls and snakeskin pumps assembling appetizers while bossa nova plays in the background

pouring prosecco into cut crystal flutes

pausing momentarily to offer my guests a glowing smile

modestly accepting their compliments on my cooking, my outfit, my home.


Camille Willemain


The art of entertaining and playing house is something that for me has always come naturally. At best it was a form of expression. I felt creative. I had fun. But in many ways, it meant so much more than that. At times it meant everything.


It was my sanctity from my own internal storm.

It was my fixation and obsession when I needed distraction and control.

It was my validation that I was special and worthy of praise.

It was my comfort in knowing that I could transform anything into something beautiful if I worked hard enough.


Bocas del toro


I looked to my surroundings to improve whatever internal state I embodied at the moment. I thought that if I created a space so beautiful, so tranquil, so perfect, then maybe I could feel beauty, tranquility, and perfection. If I orchestrated a party, a dinner, an event so lively, so entertaining, so enjoyable, then perhaps I might feel alive, entertained, and full of joy.


And sometimes it worked. Sometimes it really did.


camille willemain


So sitting here, in a damp bikini, while the rain hails relentlessly outside my wooden Caribbean home, my feet propped on top of my dirty backpack, unsure of the direction of my life or the accuracy of my decisions, hesitant to sit still for more than a moment, it is easy to feel the urge to transform my space.


san blas islands


But I know that the real place I find comfort is in my own body.

Navigating unfamiliar locations, situations, interactions.

Owning as little as possible.

Free from possessions and needs.

Able to shift and change when I am ready, happy to sit still and rest when I am not.


camille willemain


So instead of seeking transformation


I will accept what does surround me and see its beauty.

I will settle into where I am now and find tranquility.

I will stop judging and recognize that everything is already perfect.


bocas del toro almirante


I will feel alive when my bare feet wade through flooded streets and plant on slick muddy ground

when my hands graze the swaying banana leaves

when I stop to smell the wild hibiscus flowers.

I will find constant entertainment in the freedom of living each day exactly how I choose.

I will be overcome with joy by the blessing that is my absolutely privileged, phenomenal life.


camille willemain


Wherever I am

whatever it looks like

however it feels

I am home.


And when I am ready to move again, I will.


Camille Willemain Isla Carenero


Because I own nothing

and nothing owns me.



Photos of my home in Seattle by Brendan Paul

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