Swinging into Home

It’s true that you wake up one morning and suddenly realize you’re a different person.  In the midst of the transition, you’re usually at the bottom of some pit, miserable, whiny, and thinking the end will never be in sight.  But even when you’re able to say definitively that a change occurred, you still can’t pinpoint exactly when it did.  It just happened at some point and now things will forever be different.

view from the top

We put up a swing set in our backyard.  It was a grand neighborhood adventure.  We purchased it from a neighbor whose children had outgrown it, but who had kept it in fabulous condition.  He organized its transport to our yard, two houses over and one up.  I met a neighbor – and his much-appreciated motorcycle-turned-tree-house-trailer – that I never had before.  Two other neighbors brought their children to play and watch with mine while they helped the other men.  The seller and his son stayed on to help my husband finish assembling it while the kids called to them, saying hello and ‘can we go on it yet?’  Many hands make light work and I was so appreciative of their efforts and how happy they made my children.

After the excitement died down and just our three children swung and my husband and I surveyed the scene, I realized it.  I realized our life is forever altered.  We are different people here.

But in a totally positive, wide-open way.

We ask for and accept offers of help from our neighbors.  We relax on our porch and watch the trees blow in the breeze.  We have places to sit and read, whilst our children do some other activity nearby.  We have spots on the floor perfect for laying out vintage matchbox car tracks complete with loop-de-loops.  We have hooks for towels.  And room to swing around in the bathroom without smashing into some manner of porcelain.  There are dormers and transoms and skylights and fanlights.  There are angles and peaks, nooks and crannies.

Our entire perspective has changed.

The neighbor who sold us the swing set said it still feels like vacation even after living in his home for nearly two decades.  The light, airy feeling of vacation is nice, wonderful indeed.

But looking at that swing set to the profile of our home beside it, I realize this plot of land, this place and time we’ve landed in is a dream come true.  The realization of some nebulous idea I formed as a child.

Suddenly and unequivocally, this is home.  I can’t say exactly when it happened, but I can now say with certainty, we are home.

It never is a straight path ;-)

It never is a straight path 😉

Rooms with a View

Scenes from September 5

The light pouring in the windows of this house is what sold us on it.  The view through those windows didn’t hurt either.

 

Where the treetops meet the sky

Where the treetops meet the sky

DSC_0006

As Hurricane Sandy rolled through, we woke to the tallest, skinniest pine bending back and forth in the breeze.

The solar hula girl whose hips squeak with each gyration.

The solar hula girl whose hips squeak with each gyration.

 

A Less Transitory Settlement

The 21st of this month marks a year in our new home.

A year ago, I packed my books into boxes, I read books on the subject,  I wrote volumes about the subject.

A year later and the air feels familiar.  The cool of a season I recognize in this place has arrived.

Which seems to me like the perfect time to reflect.

So I’ve decided to do a photographic series on my surroundings, seeing them everyday and for the first time, for this month of September, this month of settlement, that becomes less and less transitory the more it comes around.

Scenes from September 1

Scenes from September 1

moss

Liminal and Beyond

“The Waiting Place . . . [a most useless place]

for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to come or go

or a bus to come, or a plane to go

or the mail to come, or the rain to go

or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow

or waiting around for a Yes or No

or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

 

Waiting for the fish to bite

or waiting for wind to fly a kite

or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake

or a pot to boil, or a Better Break

or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants

or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.”

As I was waiting for the will to write a positive blog entry today, these lines from Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go rang through my head.

I’m waiting.  For the end of PMS.  For the washing machine to finish its cycle.  For an expected tradesperson to show up.  My husband to come home from work.  My children to stream up the stairs and into the corner in which I’m hiding (which took one more line of typing, by the way).  For this new place in life to feel ‘normal’, to reach some sort of stasis.

Well into On Moving by Louise DeSalvo now, I’ve read about “liminal life – the life that is neither here nor there . . . These difficult-to-live-through interstices, I’ve read, are necessary for growth: the psychic spaces where the old self is shed and the new one begins to develop (DeSalvo 72).

A few weeks ago, I said that I felt I could become my authentic self in this house.  I didn’t realize how much the move would shake things up though – both our physical possessions and my own psychological foundations.  Everything can’t feel just as it did in the other house, though, because then I’d fall into familiar routines and frustrating ways of being.  Now’s the chance to fix things that are broken.  Discard things that are hindrances.  Create new ways of living and doing and being that improve our life, not just get us through it.  I wouldn’t have done that in the comfortable nest of my other home.

On the flip side, I cannot ignore the pieces of myself that will remain no matter where I am, those rituals that will follow and sustain me wherever I go.  DeSalvo said, “I’ve been waiting to ‘settle in’ before I start writing.  But writing will help me ‘settle in’.” (DeSalvo 88)  Just as there are certain beloved objects that will travel from home to home and comfort with their mere presence, so must I make time to practice these rituals that will soothe me.

I cannot wait for everything in my home to be set up perfectly before I roll out the yoga mat.  I cannot avoid writing until the perfectly appointed writing desk sits in its nook.  I cannot avoid ‘living’ while I run through my unpacking/set-up list.  If I ignore those foundational elements of myself that will indeed make anywhere I live a home, the window of liminal time will close and this chaos will become my life.

No more waiting.

This is not ‘the waiting place’.  These are the living rooms.  This is home.  It’s time to start feeling it.

What is Home?

What is home?

A place to eat? Sleep? Bathe? Shelter from the elements?

An outward manifestation of our personal aesthetic, pleasing to the senses, and exuding a sense of comfort?

A gathering place for those we hold dear to us, to be in each other’s presence and enjoy each other’s company?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

But what is it, really?

With the three-semester exception of living in a dorm room Monday-Friday at a college twenty minutes away, I lived in my childhood home until I returned from my honeymoon. Deliriously happy in my marriage, my nights were fraught with depressive tossing and turning as I tried to reconcile this new dwelling with my pre-existing ideas of home. And over the last eleven years, there have been times when I awaken from a very deep or sick-induced slumber and forget for a moment that when I open my eyes I will not see the pale lilac wall of my youth.

Nevertheless, this ‘new’ home has truly become home. My husband and I have built the foundation of our family here. From dinners on the living room floor to detritus thrown from a high chair. From office to nursery to toddler’s room to nursery again. From relaxing soaks in the tub to all-out splash fests. From a quiet haven to a bustling hub of activity.

And now the question that begs to be asked: Have we become too much for this home? Has our family outgrown this lovely little space? How much is enough? This home serves the basic functions of a family (i.e. eat, sleep, bathe, shelter), but we’re busting at the seams. It’s become a battle of space to breathe vs. burgeoning piles of crap. How much can you edit before you affect the quality of life? How much do we really need?

For the last several years, I’ve had a quote tucked into the glass door of the hutch in my dining room, always visible to remind me to contemplate it from time to time.

“It is not wrong to want to live better; what is wrong is a style of life which is presumed to be better when it is directed towards ‘having’ rather than ‘being’, and which wants to have more, not in order to be more but in order to spend life in enjoyments as an end in itself. It is therefore necessary to create life-styles in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments.”
– John Paul II

Will a new, more streamlined, spacious place help us to foster connections and communion with others (including the immediate members of our family)? Does the desire for a new home come from a desire for beauty or the want for bigger and better? Am I trying to make life easier or keep up the proverbial Joneses?

I’m hoping the very fact that I’m questioning means I’m making conscious, valid decisions. Perhaps I’m having misgivings because the idea of redefining home again is so scary to me. My thoughts swirling and anxieties mounting, my husband offered me some sage advice I almost missed. The worry in and of itself was almost comforting, because not knowing where we were going or what we should do, that endless loop of thoughts felt almost productive in the face of uncertainty. But I forced myself to look at him when he said the following words, ones I knew I couldn’t miss, “Home is wherever you and I and the kids are.”

And isn’t that the very best answer to so many questions.

 

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