On Moving and Making a House a Home

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

My sweet Dad helped us load and unload the whole truck.

If you ever have the wild idea to move during the last three weeks of the semester, just don’t. It will be exhausting, and disorganized, and rushed, and you will never feel caught up. You will live out of boxes until the semester ends, and you will keep moving piles of stuff (because you have SO MUCH STUFF) around the house so that you have a place to study. In short, just extend your lease by a month and move once summer starts.

Although moving at the tail end of a truly chaotic semester was nothing short of insanity, I do appreciate the ability to start fresh in a new place that meets our needs so much better. All of a sudden we found ourselves with more space, a patio, two bathrooms (TWO), and a beautifully landscaped apartment complex that isn’t in the middle of downtown. We also found ourselves eternally grateful for all of our friends and family that came out to help us schlep our poorly organized mess from one side of town to the other.

As we started packing up our old apartment, I couldn’t help but marvel at the way we attach ourselves to things and to places. We pack the entirety of our material lives into a box, and we lock the door, and we hope for the best. We hope that we will come home and things will be as they were. We hope that nothing bad will happen while we are gone. We hope that the maintenance guy won’t let out our pets. We hope that we will leave for work each morning and we will come home to a house that has been warmed all day by the sun. We expect that all of our pictures, and childhood stuffed animals, and our sentimental clothing items, and our electronics that we saved for and hoped for will be right where we left them.

But what if we lost all of that stuff? I mean, that’s what we buy renter’s and homeowner’s insurance for, isn’t it? We select the policy with reimbursement as close to replacement value as possible so that we can feel as though we have some sort of control over the material possessions we  cling to. Yet, in the back of our minds, there is a nagging. We know that our insurance policy may replace our TV or our pots and pans. We trust that the insurance adjustor will make it right and replace our bed or our computer. But, insurance companies can’t write a check and bring back our grandmother’s class ring or the external hard drive with years of photos on it. The things that really matter aren’t replaceable.

No one could ever write me a check and expect it to make up for the loss of the bunny rabbit that my grandmother made for me years and years ago. No amount of money could ever make the loss of Nathan or of our sweet, furry cats bearable. The human connection is what we really seem to be holding onto. When we lock our doors as we leave each day, we are turning the key with the intention of grasping at the bits and pieces of the people that we love that we have sewn into our material lives.

When I fret about the security of a home or the best way to pack a box, I’m not really concerned that a measuring cup might shatter or a picture frame may crack. I’m worried that the ring that once belonged to my mother and to her mother before that may not make its way back onto my finger. The ring probably has very little monetary value, but it is the only worldly possession I have left of my grandmother. My childhood bunny and blanket are not the first things I unpack because I need them to sleep with, but because they remind me so tenderly of my Mimi. The jackets that were given to me by the widower of a woman that I admired to no end bring tears to my eyes as I remember what an incredible person she was-and how much I miss her.

That is what I worry about. The bits and bobbles that bring me back to the people I love. Artworks from my sister, the Bible my parents gave me for graduation- none of these things mean much of anything to anyone else. But, I fret over them. I have come to believe that, for me anyway, the reason that I work to fill my home with things that are functional and beautiful and sentimental is because it truly is all about people.

I want to have people in my home. I want to make them food and pour them glasses of wine. I want them to stay in our guest room, and I want to stay up too late talking about important things that matter (and silly things that don’t). I want to welcome people with a hospitality that is unbridled. I want to form those human connections that characterize the things we own. I want people to gather together on our worn couch, I want them to eat their fill at our dining room table. I want them to feel at home in our kitchen. I hope that no one goes away from our home hungry (spiritually, physically, or mentally).

I want to be reminded daily that no matter what insurance premium I pay each month, and no matter how well I lock our doors, the material things aren’t really what I am worried about. I am worried about losing those relationships, worried about having those connections stolen from me. A loss of privacy or possessions be it from natural disaster or human maliciousness, would be a blow because it would tear down the wonderful, warm bubble that I want my home to be. When I lock the door each morning, I want to lock in all of the good and keep out all of the bad.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter which t-shirt I am pulling out of the boxes that are still largely unpacked. What matters is that every day I come home to Nathan. Every day I step in the door to see two cats waiting for me.  What if we kept in mind that the majority of things we pack into boxes each time we move aren’t really the things that give us life and happiness? What if we remembered that the memories and connections and love we create are what makes our houses into homes? What if we worried less that our house was spotless and worried more about loving people well when they are in our home? That is my goal for this year and for this new space we live in. I want to love people well, and I want to make our home a shelter from the chaos of the day-to-day.

Back?

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Unrelated picture.

Well, it’s been months since I sat down and wrote anything for this space. I have thought about it a million times, and Nathan asks regularly when I will be writing something new. Honestly, it just hasn’t been possible to write anything for a while. It isn’t because things stopped happening, or I stopped taking pictures, or I no longer get stuck in my head long enough to draw out something to write about. It’s just that, well, these last eleven months have been hellish. And, yes, you may notice that eleven months pretty much exactly lines up with how long I’ve been married. And, no, the hellishness has nothing to do with my marriage. Nathan and I are great. He has been one of the only things in my life over the last year that has been good and stable and happy. While my marriage itself wasn’t the source of the emotional drain that spanned this year, the actual act of getting married certainly contributed to the stress. Our wedding was beautiful, and we were surrounded by loved ones, and marrying Nathan was the best decision I ever made, but the wedding was also very stressful and overwhelming and some of the things that resulted from it have been really emotionally damaging.

I know that all of that is so so vague. I’m sorry for that. The reality is that a lot of the negative energy that lingered after the wedding is gone now. It has taken almost a year, but things are getting worked through and getting back to normal. There are people that are close to Nathan and me that know all about the trials of the last year, and I am happy to talk with people about it individually. But, it has been one of the toughest times of my life, and I just don’t feel like the whole internet needs a backstage pass for that.

For many people, when life gets difficult it becomes easier for them to share with others or to write out their thoughts. For me it wasn’t like that at all. I got so stuck in my own head. I kind of just shut down. I want this blog to be a positive space, and I didn’t see a lot of positive for a while. The good things that were happening seemed less important to share here and more important to hold onto just between Nathan and me. That is the thing with blogs and instagram and facebook- they aren’t at all as they seem. This point makes it’s rounds on the blog circuit every few months, but I believe it is worth repeating. If you were to look at my instagram feed for the last year, you probably wouldn’t have any idea that anything out of the ordinary was going on in my life. Instagram literally filters the bad out of our lives. This blog, my status updates, every picture I run through VSCO Cam, it is all a tightly edited sliver of my life. So many of the brutally hard things, and many of the heartbreakingly wonderful things, never make it past my own brain.

In some ways, this edited version of my life is great. I can look back at my instagram feed, or read old blog posts, and I only have to relive the good moments. In other ways, it seems wrong that we try so hard to present a fake reality to the world. We try to eliminate the vulnerability that we experience. These conflicting opinions make it hard for me to draw a line on this blog. The difference between authentic, vulnerable, and relatable,  and only documenting the good things for the sake of having an archive of happiness, is fuzzy for me.

Someone told me the other day that if I could invent a “fast-forward” button for life then I would be a millionaire. If people had a tool to use to just skip over the hard times then perhaps there would no longer be any hard times. This thought has been rolling around in my head since, and it still makes me uncomfortable. A career counselor once told me that if I chose to go into a field like social work, then I would learn how not to feel so much. They would teach me how to mute my emotional attachment to the people that I worked with. That concept was completely at odds with the way I wished to live my life. The “fast-forward” button bothers me in the same way. Would I ever want to relive the last eleven moths? HELL NO! But, I wouldn’t have wanted to skip over it either. There was a lot of true anguish that characterized these months. There was also a lot of growth and love and God. Nathan and I fought our way into marriage and into adulthood. We came out alive and we came out loving each other more than we did when we started. Our community came around us in ways that still make me teary with gratitude.

All this to say that writing hasn’t been on my radar. I do miss it, though, and I want to write more. So, I guess I am back. I don’t know what a posting schedule might look like or what I’ll write about. But, I do know that it feels good to hear my fingers clack against the keys and see the strings of thoughts appear on the screen.


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