I adore my house. I mean, I really, really like it. From the moment I walked through the front door, so many years ago, I have always felt as if the house hugged me. It’s old and sweet and full of charm, constructed during an era of craftsmanship and care. It’s a short walk from the beach and located in a great neighborhood, in a town I love. My husband and I have spent years updating it, decorating it, enjoying every minute within its walls raising our family. It’s my sanctuary, it’s my base, it brings me great joy to just be here. It’s home.
The mere mention of moving has always been dismissed. It has never been an option. As a matter of fact, I have had crazy discussions with people trying to defend my belief that if I were to win millions of dollars, I would not move. Move for what? A larger house doesn’t buy happiness. I am happy here, this is the dream home. My dreams don’t have to match those popularized by people who do crave a bigger house. This is it. This is the perfect house, the forever house, no matter what…and no one could ever convince me otherwise…until this weekend when my home was just a house.
My family went out of town and for a myriad of reasons, I was unable to get away with them. I stayed at home.
I knew that I would miss everyone. I mean honestly, my husband and I are homebodies. We have left the kids for one night, maybe two, but in nearly two decades, I have not been separated from my kids, or my husband, for more than 48 hours at a pop. This time, they were gone for five days. Five days is a very long time, but I was prepared. I had lists of things to keep me…distracted. I was going to finish sewing pillows, decorate for Halloween, clean out a few cabinets, read, write, visit with friends. Mostly, though, I was kind of excited to spend time at home. Rooms would be cleaned and stay clean. There wouldn’t be the endless pile of dishes in the sink, the daily drop of clothes on the floor or the baskets and baskets of laundry to wash, dry, fold and put away. Bliss. Or so I thought.
Now, you already know where I’m going with this, I’m sure…and yes, I have read all the cutesy quotes about a family and love making a house into a home. Moreover, I have lost very precious people in my life, my dad when I was just twelve, so I know what’s really important. Yet, I was so completely unprepared for the amount of cold disinterest I had in the house almost the minute after my family left the premises. It was actually rather shocking.
At first, I puttered around, trying to decide what mess to tackle, but then the kids started emailing me from the plane. “Mom, it’s so cool, here’s what we’re doing, here are some pictures of us…blah, blah, blah…” I read every word with baited breath, it was all infinitely more important than anything in the house.
When the emails stopped, the house was quiet again. I went about my business, but I wasn’t really enjoying myself. So I gave up. I left. I left my sanctuary. I escaped to my sister’s house, a place filled with family. It was lovely and her house looked so pretty and warm. It smelled like Sunday dinner and good times. I went home after dark and my house just smelled empty.
I looked around and realized that I was never tied to my house. It was all misplaced. I am tied to my family, who just happens to live in this house with me. As cliché as it sounds, their presence is what makes this house a home, it’s what drives me to decorate, to feather my nest. It is from them that I draw my strength, not my house. As a matter of fact, while they were gone, I got sick. Really, really sick. The doctor said it was viral, rest he said. So I did and it did nothing. For days I was comatose on the couch eating Triscuits. I had no energy and couldn’t do anything. Yet amazingly, on the morning of the day they were coming home, I had enough strength to clean the house, make a huge dinner, complete with a homemade cheesecake, do laundry, change sheets and shower. I did have to rest at times throughout the afternoon, but I felt better than I had in days.
By night’s end, with everyone tucked into bed, the rooms completely destroyed, dirty laundry and suitcases everywhere and my toes curled up against my husband’s, my house, my beautiful, charming, sweet house hugged me goodnight and suddenly, for the first time in five days, I was home all over again.
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