Reclaiming Home

22 Feb

At home I do not feel at home. I wonder what that is about. I’ve been wondering about it for some time now and I’m uncertain of what to do. Then I remember that home isn’t always a physical manifestation. Maybe I feel restless at home because I don’t really have a place that I can call mine anymore. I never had a constant childhood home. The home that was mine from ages 12-18 was sold a few years back when my parents moved out to California.

This is the house I lived in from age 12-18

I counted the other day. I lived in five houses before I was 12, in two different states. In college I had four different dwellings. After college, I luckily only moved three times. Since 2006 I’ve moved five times (also within two different states) and had 9 different people I’ve shared space with. This does not promote stability, I realize. Some of those experiences felt homey, like when I met and then lived with now-called East Coast parents while doing my internship in Washington DC. They provided me stability of regular dinners together, good conversations, tours around VA to Mt. Vernon and to see a baseball game. I read books in their garden, watched television with them, and we shared stories about life, God, and family. That was not my home either, but the space that was created there felt like it.

After that, I lived in the ghetto. Some people say that and don’t really mean it, but I’m serious. I didn’t tell my parents (or my East Coast Parents) until after I moved, but I lived on one of the most dangerous streets in Pasadena for a year or so. I know this because one night after returning home really late, I heard gunshots four doors down and found out that a boy was killed fifteen minutes after I went inside my apartment. I was scared for a long time. Strangely enough I had a really big room with two closets and a bathroom inside of it. Despite the people screaming at their dog next door on a daily basis, my old room had a tinge of “home” to it.

I’m trying to reclaim that piece of home.

What was it that made it like that for me?Was it the large space? Was it my candles or lighting? Was it me? I’m trying to remember. It’s difficult to remember but I want to so much. I feel like it’s critical for me.

I often find myself feeling most at home on beaches. I took this shot on a cold day in South Carolina when I found this deserted beach.

So now I live in an apartment on a very safe street with one of my best friends. She’s lived here for 8 years and loves it. This is her home. It doesn’t always feel like mine. It’s full of her furniture and her taste because quite honestly, I haven’t allowed myself to “like” anything design wise. My room is full of Ikea stuff and Target particle board. My parents got me a filing cabinet at Costco. I bought a mirror that isn’t totally what I like from Home Goods. All of my art is from other people and I love it, but none of it matches so my room is a mishmash of randomness.

Recently, I’ve started to do things to help myself realize that I’m not just here temporarily. I simplified. I get rid of stuff all of the time now. It’s freeing. It helps me create space in my rather small room. I keep a collage I made a few months back in a retreat perched on a random shelf that’s in my room from former occupants. It’s a soothing green and has texture and words on it that remind me that it’s okay to cultivate a sense of home here. I’m thinking about painting my room green and getting some fresh flowers. I’m thinking about spending money on a candle I like so it smells good in here. I might pack away my prized books that I love so much because although inspiring, they don’t promote joy and peace in my room. I might even get a rug to cover the carpet in our apartment that I seem to dislike more each day. I almost bought a groupon to have our carpet done but I don’t really want to spend the money right now. I might just have to go to Osh and do it myself so that I know I attempted it.

Home for me right now is a question mark. I’m moving toward this uncomfortable feeling that I don’t know where home is.

The only place that’s ever been a constant home for me is on my Grandma’s farm. It’s the one place that has never changed in the 31 years I’ve been going there. I miss the farm. I love it there. I dream of it sometimes. The wooden spoons that hold the windows open in the summer because A/C is unheard of in Greencamp, Ohio. The doorbell. The Christmas trees that grew into giant pines in the front yard. The gravel driveway.

This is my Grandma's house. It's on 88 acres of farm land.

The yellow cape cod. The voices that echoed. The loud and boisterous laughter from the 75 people we used to cram in there on Thanksgivings. The musty smell that always greets me when I go down to the basement. Even the dark laundry room which still scares me a little bit: leftovers from an overactive imagination. I think of the plush green carpet. The smell of sulfur in the toilet because the water is so hard. The laundry chute that goes from the top floor to the basement. The room full of canned goods, jars of fruit, and mouse traps on the floor. The clangy piano. The metal barrel out back where we were always instructed to burn the trash. My favorite dinner bell with the chain on it. Old books from the 1800s. It’s a frozen time capsule. I’ve never lived there but it’s still home.

How do I bring that feeling here? I wonder.

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2 Responses to “Reclaiming Home”

  1. Kristin R. February 23, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    Just beautiful. Love this so much and your pictures add such a personal touch to this moving narrative. I am excited and blessed to be on this journey with you Mills – the journey to find home in yourself. May peace be with you today.

    • purpleambrosia February 23, 2011 at 9:58 am #

      Kristin, thanks so much! I’m glad you’re on this journey with me, too! 🙂 You inspire me! I reread your chapter on body from ABM this morning and it gave me an idea for Part 2 of my blog on home. 🙂

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