When I was a child, I loved to pretend I had no home.
A strange little creature, you could find me on the sidewalk in front of our house, sitting on a blanket with my best friend, pondering what life would be like if we didn’t really live anywhere at all. A sign of a young girl who had her needs more than met, empathy for those I’d seen who were less fortunate and a vivid imagination? I believe so. But maybe this was also a vague glimmer of the person I find myself now staring at each morning. The first spark of the bohemian fire that now flickers out of my eyes and soul as we conquer the monotonous home repairs that seem to pop up at our house on a daily basis.
Nothing dries up the creative juices like a shower pipe bursting, silences the muses’s voice like the pop of overworked wiring. Hours and energy spent cleaning and planning and painting. Coordinating with contractors and appointment times that require a 10 hour window for a 10 minute fix. A plumber here, a water softener maintenance there. I realize how fortunate we are to be able to own a home. It’s a luxury that many don’t have and certainly a complaint of someone with very few real concerns. But I find myself more often than not, longing for the freedom of flexibility. For the transient lifestyle about which this blog was conceived.
There’s something romantic about renting a space for a period of time in your life. It becomes a backdrop for that specific ecosystem of memory, a point of reference for the overstuffed shoebox of time and space that houses everything a person experiences in a lifetime. When you outgrow a rental, you move on, like a scene change in a movie. I have so many memorable scenes in mine: The tile in the bathroom of my first apartment, a townhouse near the beach. I spent hours running my fingers across the boundless field of tiny white squares in the tub, talking on the phone (and simultaneously falling in love) with the man who would become my entire world. The counter space at my first NYC apartment, perfect for late night wine-drinking and unwinding long enough to see the sun rise. The way the light shifted in the evening through the windows at the Brooklyn apartment where we brought Atlas home, coating everything in hazy orange. I remember watching it move across my lap as I rocked him to sleep for the first time and realized our lives would never be the same.
For me, changing “home” helps to compartmentalize moments in my life that I don’t want to forget. It allows life to feel new again. Maybe we aren’t destined to pursue the American Dream of our parents, who worked for security and stability and four walls to call their own. I’m beginning to wonder whether owning very little frees up space in the brain for invention. While our son is still young, maybe our time is better spent maintaining relationships than a lawn. I think we’re ready to trade equity for experiences.
How about you? What does home mean to you?