I just pressed one of those big adhesive outdoor thermometers onto the window above the sink in my new kitchen. The action felt fraught with significance, like I was putting an official stamp on something.
Let me ask you: how do you define “home”?
For me, home is a place where I can walk in the door and immediately kick off my shoes. Home is a place where I can sing at the top of my lungs and dance like a fool. Home is a place where I can plunk my sweaty, post-workout self just about anywhere, or shamelessly contort my body into every indiscreet position imaginable on a foam roller, without worrying whether any of it is “proper.” Home is a place where I can swear if I want and cry if I need to.
In short, home is a place to relax: to be able to feel, sometimes physically, the stress of the outside world slide right off my shoulders.
It takes time, creating a home like that. It’s not just a matter of load-up-thin-out-take-down-move-up-move-across-move-in-unpack-rearrange-BAM-new-home! Moving into a new home and actually making it a home require effort not unlike making a new friend. You can’t rush it. You have to get to know each other: the strengths, the weaknesses, the fabulous open spaces, the pesky corner that you keep bumping into but love anyway, the nooks and crannies easily overlooked but bearing great potential.
And while you’re at it, you’ll probably get to know yourself better. I’m not saying new home = new you, but darn if the process isn’t similar. If you want to make a serious change in your non-real-estate life, what do you do? You examine your life, and figure out what you don’t need. You let certain things go. You realize what you cherish and would never dream of parting with. You rediscover treasures you had forgotten about. It dawns on you that you could be sharing what you have with others, without asking for anything in return. You do all this, and keep working at it, and slowly but surely, shift happens.
Somewhere between hanging the last piece of artwork on the wall (using a 5-lb. dumbbell because I couldn’t find my hammer — I was at Level Orange of Interior Decorating Mode, people) and pressing that thermometer onto the kitchen window, I started to feel a shift. A shift away from toil, sweat, sore muscles, and the dread of facing seemingly insurmountable piles of boxes. A shift toward filling the newly-stocked kitchen with yummy aromas, curling up with one of the books that I consciously chose to not give to Goodwill, and savoring the simple pleasure of having an in-house washer and dryer. A shift toward thinking, “Hmmm, maybe my interior as well as my exterior could stand a little of the load-up-thin-out-take-down-move-up-move-across-move-in-unpack-rearrange treatment.”
Best of all, it’s a shift away from combining my home with Robin Hood’s home, and a shift toward creating our home.
When I think about that, the stress of the outside world slides right off my shoulders.