I lived in two different dorms in college and then in a lake house for a semester and for that last semester and a half I lived in a restored old house across the street from school. I had approximately 7.5 roommates during that four years and a summer term.
After college I moved to Nashville where I lived in a house with a family for a year, in West Meade with two girls and two cats, a condo on West End Avenue for a summer, a dollhouse with a friend in Green Hills for a little less than a year and then finally in a house not far from that last house with two other friends and no cats. The last room I lived in had red curtains for doors.
Then there was my fabulous, obsessively neat 70 year old studio apartment in Knoxville's Sequoyah Hills. This ranks up there as probably my favorite abode over the past 14 years. Possibly because I was the only occupant and could order things according to my OCD tendencies. I could also watch endless Felicity and Gilmore Girl marathons with no one to judge me. I lived there for a little over two years and I still miss it.
In 2007 I got engaged and got married that fall. We moved into a two bedroom up the street from my beloved studio. It was like the studio only bigger. Plus: Hardwood floors, big windows, high ceilings. Minus: No central heating or air, no washer or dryer, no dishwasher, occasional camel crickets (my personal nemesis). It was a lovely place for the year that we lived there. I've driven by it since then and tried to pretend that I could waltz in the front door and everything would be the same as it was 3 years ago. But, the current tenant has posted a concrete head sculpture on the front porch and that's effectively ruined my daydream.
For 9 months we lived in Clemson. That wasn't my best year so I won't say much about that. I will say that the duplex we lived in was tainted by the morning sickness I endured soon after we discovered Sam was joining our family.
And then there was Knoxville again. We moved into my in-laws' upstairs, which had been an apartment at one time. I have to say, I really loved living in that upstairs and was able to create a sweet little nursery for Sam who was born while we lived there. I have great memories of that year living with my husband's parents. I also unexpectedly miss the 58 inch television with its one million channels. I didn't think I would, but I do.
That brings us to now. We moved to Chattanooga roughly 3 days ago and some dear friends are letting us live in their downstairs apartment until we find our own place. To sum up: two bedrooms, one bath and a view that no camera could ever do justice.
But, I have to admit something. I'm tired of moving. I'm over packing up boxes, storing things in storage, starting over in new houses with different ovens that bake at differing temperatures. I want to move somewhere and throw out all the boxes because we don't plan on using them for a long, long time. Maybe even have a box burning in the back yard.
In a word, I want STABILITY. And I don't care who knows it.
I drove around today after Bible study exploring the area where we're living for the moment, visiting the local Starbucks and marveling at the beautiful houses and breathtaking views along the way. And in the midst of all that, I couldn't help but wonder when Matt and Sam and I would have our own home. Not a big fancy house, but a real home where we could create traditions and memories. I realize that I could possibly be idealizing (or maybe even idolizing) the concept of home. In my mind there's this perfect place full of natural light and the smell of gingerbread where I can set our hundreds of books on bookshelves, bake mounds of cookies in my kitchen, have pizza and movie night with Matt (and Sam, once his bedtime gets moved up past 8), invite friends over for dinner and conversation and game night, and the list goes on of all the things I dream of doing in this place called Home.
I'm wondering how much of this desire for a home is about being female and wanting security and a place to settle and nest and nurture children. Do men dream about home the way women do? I kind of doubt it. I think Matt dreams more about Red Zone and camping trips and Papa Murphy's pizza. (If you're reading this, Sweetie, I know there's more to you than that).
The other thing I'm wondering about is the reality of a home requiring a down payment and a mortgage and homeowner's insurance and maintenance. All those things don't figure in to my daydreams very well. I hope that in my desire for a home I'm not simply imagining the current cultural trappings of the American dreamhouse, a la granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors. Obviously, I appreciate all those things, but I'm trying really hard not to believe that the having or the lack of having those things can keep me from creating a home wherever it is we end up living.
How do I keep myself from confusing crown molding and double bathroom sinks and walk in closets with the makings of a real Home? I keep getting lost in the details of wanting a perfect space but I also feel conviction knowing that I don't NEED all those things to have a happy home.
In the meantime, I'm scouring Craigslist for affordable rentals and hoping to find something that doesn't require bars on the windows or double deadbolts.