Home. Where is home? I’ve always liked the cliché “Home is where the heart is,” because it describes what home feels like well enough for me.
I never had to question where this place called ‘home’ was until I went to college. Of course, during my freshman year, ‘home’ was still my parents’ house. However happy I was to move out of it, it was still ‘home’ to me. Then, after my summer job on campus wasn’t going so well, I decided to move back home. That’s when I realized that the home that I once had didn’t exist and would never exist again. It’s not that it was all that different than it had been scarcely a year earlier, but everybody got a year older, everybody had learned to live with one less person in the cramped, (officially) two-bedroom house, and I was an independent adult with a year of freedom under my belt, living in a walled-off portion of the living room with a sheet for a door.
I was miserable.
It was then that I realized that since I couldn’t have ‘home’ at my parents’ house, I would have to make it for myself. I moved in and out of six different dorm rooms during my first three years in college. “This is my home for this school year,” I would think, or “This is my home for the summer.” Soon I became accustomed to moving my home from one building to another in one day at the beginning and end of the summers, taking down ‘home’ in one room and setting up ‘home’ in the next. Although I felt like a nomad, my concept of ‘home’ travelled with me.
After my junior year of college, Husband and I got an apartment of our own. “This is our home until we both graduate,” I thought. It was truly awesome to me. It had a full kitchen and our very own bathroom, nothing we had to share with a myriad of other people. It also boasted (haha) two entire bedrooms. We had a whole extra room with which we could do whatever we wanted! (It turned into a computer room/study.) It took awhile to actually get it to feel like home, though, because for the first six months Husband was living and working in an internship two hundred miles away. I was alone, and again, miserable. The apartment felt deathly empty without him. After he fully moved in, though, it was home sweet, beautiful home.
When Husband graduated, I lobbied him to apply for jobs here in Oregon, and he landed one. We had to pack up and move out of our apartment, which was our home for two years, and into a smaller rented condo. “This is our home until we buy a house,” I thought. I didn’t know at the time how long that would be. My dreamy-eyed self thought it would be no longer than 12 to 18 months before we would be getting a house of our own. After all, Husband had several friends who had bought houses. Why couldn’t we? So I was conservative when I was hanging things on walls, because I didn’t want to have to patch holes for things that wouldn’t even be on the walls that long. I was holding ‘home’ in my heart instead of letting it take over our humble adobe.
Well, it didn’t take us too long to realize that, HOLY COW, houses in the Portland Metro area cost way more money than houses in North Dakota. We were naïve. It also didn’t take us long to figure out that I was pregnant and we were going to have to cram a baby in with us. Actually, the baby was easy to cram in; it was her things that took up so much room. And as she grows, so do her things. While we originally didn’t think (or at least hope) we’d be in this condo very long, we have been here for two years and nine months. And while I would have done something crazy to be able to buy a house years ago, in light of the current housing and economic situation I am so glad we waited until now. At any rate, it was probably about the time Munchkin was born that I was finally letting our place feel like home. I feel an attachment here–after all, this is where we started our family. This condo, however imperfect, has been my daughter’s first home.
And, banker willing, if we are truly able to buy this house and we actually close on it, it will be the first time in eight years when I can say, “This is our home…for as long as we wish to stay. Maybe forever.” How awesome that will be! To be able to throw down roots, to not have to be thinking of our departure when making my ‘home’, to not have to wonder how long it will be before we will need to move. I feel so grateful, so blessed that I will have a place to call, once and for all, HOME.