In our four years of marriage Nick and I have moved, now, 5 times.
Closing the door, literally, has never been difficult for me. We were excited to get out of our first college apartment on the 3rd floor and into our big house from the 1800s in the country, then we were relieved and really overjoyed to get out of there and move forward, we stayed with my parents for a few months as we did some house-hunting (as you may recall) but nothing felt right. We were in the home stretch with me being pregnant with Oliver and needed to make a decision; we would rent again.
So last October we moved into a duplex (that had no other occupants). It’s where we bonded as just a couple for those last few months before Oliver was born, where we made big plans and had deep conversations, where I looked out the kitchen window with gratitude. It’s where I went into labor and where we brought our son home. It’s kept us warm; it’s kept us cool. It is where we fell in love again everyday as a new family of three, where I sat propped up in bed nursing Oliver and turning back and seeing the moonlight coming down over the huge tree in the front yard. It’s where we gave him his first baths and then months later where he would stand in the kitchen sink looking out the window. It’s where I sat, rocking and nursing Ollie in the corner of his room hearing Nick do the dishes and listening to “King of my Heart” and quietly crying with happiness and with astonishment that somehow my baby was already 5 days old (time really does speed up tremendously when you have a baby). It’s where he learned to crawl and stand. It’s been home.
All our previous residences, at some point or another, were home. But this place, this simple duplex, this I was having a hard time leaving.
We knew our lease was ending and although our landlord was hoping we would stay forever (p.s. he is the best landord ever) we knew that it was time to buy our first home.
The perfect opportunity came in our favorite adorable small town. We purchased a house as charming as the address, complete with a porch swing, shady trees, original hard wood floors and a wood-burning fireplace.
The sellers accepted our offer (there were many, and within about 12 hours of being put on the market!) and I felt the strangest range of emotions. I felt ecstatic that “we won” in a sense (our offer, ha) and looking forward to having a place be our own in such a cute place. But I also felt like I was being torn away from something I dearly loved a.k.a. our home for the past year, the place we refer to endearingly as simply “the duplex.”
As the date approached I felt almost filled with dread. One night I sat on the bed and told Nick I really couldn’t imagine leaving. This place with Oliver’s handprints and where his knees crawled across the floor. Where I could go into the bathroom and remember getting ready before going to the hospital. The only thing that helped me was knowing we really didn’t have a choice….if someone moved in upstairs (landlord was renovating it) it would be too loud. A few other factors (like hello we just bought an adorable house!) didn’t seem to matter.
We painted every single room in our new house with the exception of the mudroom and bathroom and put our own touches on everything. But the night before moving in, as we cleared up all the painting supplies and tools; I stood back and felt so incredibly excited. THIS is our home! This is where Ollie will grow! This is where we will likely welcome his brother or sister one day, this is where I will say “Ollie, time to come in!” out the kitchen window into the backyard. This is where love and memories and happiness will grow and flourish.
I realized that it is a GOOD thing that I was having such a hard time with the idea of leaving our last home – Ollie’s home. It means that place was an extraordinary sanctuary of love and joy and deep personal growth and prayers answered and healing. Healing of what, I’m not so sure of. But I know that is the right word, really. I was scared I would close the simple, slightly tacky and outdated door, with a lump in my throat and I would want to run back in to smell the warm and still freshly painted, new carpet smell I’ve grown accustomed to. So toasty, so homey.
And there was a moment of that. It hit me when I took all of Ollie’s clothes out of his closet and I was touching the hangers that I had put in with such care with Nick just a year before. So anxious for his arrival. It hit me when we took all his furniture out of his room and had a flashback of walking in that empty room, pregnant, a few months before Ollie was born. That the last time it had been empty, was also such a sacred time. I stood back in the room; it was evening and the sun casted a glow into the room, and breathed deep. I filled up my lungs and intentionally thought “I want to remember every detail, this moment, these feelings, this smell forever.” I wanted to ensure that all our memories, at our sacred place, would transcend the walls and stay with me forever. Afterwards I left hastily to go to my mom’s to nurse Ollie, thinking I would be returning the next day to the duplex for a walk-thru. But it didn’t work out that way and I think it was for the best. I think if I had actually had the “this is it” moment I would’ve left feeling sad and nostalgic. So I’m so glad I had that intentional time in Ollie’s room to quietly say goodbye in my heart…
But I also knew that finally now my heart was in the right place to open the decorative red-painted door on our front porch and walk into our new home, a place Nick and I have passed likely thousands of times everyday while growing up…where more memories will be made and the old ones will forever stay in my heart.
And that’s exactly what has happened. Ollie’s knees have crawled every inch of our new home, his sweet handprints are left on every smudgable surface, and it immediately, completely felt like home. I was talking to my sweet Grandma the other night (I could go on and on about this woman and her courageous strong faith and how she has inspired me) and we were talking about how it really is the US that make it home. She moved from her home in Illinois that she has known her whole life, gave her family all her possessions and moved to Florida (still with family) as it’s always been a dream of hers to live on the coast. In her 80’s! Living proof that at any age you can make your dreams come true and to never be afraid to take a leap out in faith.
I almost feel silly now, having any doubts about our new home. It feels like it was orchestrated by someone greater than us, and I’m sure it was. It’s so perfect for us… On our walks I have to pinch myself that this is happening. Just this time last year, we were in our town for a Halloween festival of sorts, “Boo on the Boulevard” and as we rode the haunted trolley past all the gorgeous old homes Nick said “How awesome would it be to live here. Like right in the heart of it. Maybe one day we could.” I smiled, kind of sympathetically in a way, thinking, “I just don’t think it’s going to happen, sweetheart.” This town has a competitive market and I never thought it would be in the cards for us, certainly not in a year. Yet, here we are. Just one year later. Right where we wanted to be. God is so faithful.
Also, side note, it’s kind of funny that 4 years from today I wrote Home Is Wherever I Am With You.
Home, sweet, home.