I was invited and inspired to join a blog tour entitled “Starter Stories” from the real estate company Compass. They’re an innovative way to find a place to call home, currently based in New York city and Washington DC. I don’t live in those places but I have lived in what feels like a million different places. I think I’ve moved something like 11 times three since I’ve been married, so I know a little bit about making a space into a home.
The first place we lived in after we were married was the tiniest of apartments on the campus of the college where we met. Most married couples living there left the space looking like a version of their dorm. Milk crates for shelves, posters or nothing on the walls, mattresses on the floor. But, you see, I come from a long line of “nesters” and well before I was even engaged I was collecting old Prints, dishes and window treatments. Our space still consisted of a second hand couch, and school books piled up, but the shelves were lined with decorations, the walls were hung with art, and a flowering plant hung outside our door. People would come in and say “wow this looks like a ‘real’ house.” which to a newly married 21 year old was just the best compliment. And that place was special, magical even. It’s where we learned to lean on each other, where we learned what living with your partner really means day-to-day, and it’s where I first became an expert at cooking in the smallest of spaces.
Then we moved to a parsonage. That’s an entirely different kettle of fish. The church we worked for was very supportive of our making the old farm house our own; as long as we did the work they would pay for the supplies. And, it was A LOT of work. Also, living in a house where your landlords are also your boss’s can be tricky, but I still dream about that house. It was huge, in fact most of it we didn’t use (pre-children). The kitchen was magnificent and it had the most beautiful walk through pantry. Honestly I lived in that house before I could really take advantage of it all. When we left it was bitter sweet. I fell in love with youth ministry there. I learned that God had indeed wired me to walk with teens and that they could touch my life in ways I hadn’t realized possible. We had worked so hard painting and drywalling and painting some more that leaving it to it’s fate really hurt.
Now we live in our small cottage-type house, built in the 1950’s. And, despite the fact that it’s rather small (especially compared to that beautiful farm house) it’s ours (well ours’ and the bank’s) and anything we do to it is for us and our family. This is the home where I brought home both of my babies from the hospital. The home where I embraced my calling as a writer. The home where I made and canned jelly for the first time (that farmhouse kitchen would have been great for that) and learned to bake bread from scratch. I have a flower garden and a dirt patch that is supposed to be a vegetable garden. Here is where I feel connected, maybe for the first time in my adult life. This little house has entertained teens, children, and our friends. Many a backyard get together it has seen and honestly, that was always a dream of mine. There is magic in community and living life with other people, and we do that on this street in this house. That’s what makes it home after all, the love that’s found inside it’s walls despite the fingerprints and clutter.
In this world where all seems so temporary I think it’s important to create home. And you can do it no matter where you are no matter what kind of living arrangement you have. It’s in the personal touches that you bring to a space, not the space itself. As cheesy as it sounds it really is in the love.