I’ve been noticing so many references to home this past month.
Beyonce’s documentary on Netflix (and the subsequent live album of her Coachella performance) which bears the name Homecoming dropped, as did the first single and music video off Taylor Swift’s new album, where lie Easter eggs that make many fans predict the next single or even the album title itself will have something to do with Home.
I returned home after a weeklong vacation with my husband’s family, and then dropped off the face of the earth and stayed home from work even longer battling a terrible illness that left me coughing, aching, and voiceless for over a week. My husband has gone away on business and returned home, only to go right back out again.
And during this month exactly a year ago, my husband and I closed on and moved into our first single-family house in our Sweet Home, Chicago.
As much as we wanted this -a home to grow into out of the hustle of the “real city” that is significantly closer to where we both work- homeownership has thrown us into the deep end. And we know how to swim, we knew it was going to be hard: no more landlord to fix things when they break, no more shrugging fixtures or wall colors or outdoor spaces off as “good enough” because we didn’t have the power to change much, and no more power to up and leave at the end of the lease if we just weren’t feeling the place anymore. But we didn’t expect the water to be this choppy, for the ladder out to seem so far away.
We soon discovered there is so much more to owning a home than well, ownership. There are the things not noticed until after we began living here. The things the previous owners didn’t necessarily break but didn’t necessarily fix, either. There are the easy upgrades and personalizations that turn into full-on replacing or remodeling or, heaven help us, renovating. And then, of course, there are the things that do break on us and we’re on the line to figure it out ourselves (especially when the thing that breaks is the heater going into the second night of Polar Vortex -50 below temperatures… true story).
Every small improvement to this charming little Tudor is a marvel, but sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees and appreciate the learning curve of, say, fixing holes in plaster walls before painting the color of your choice when there are gutters to clean and bricks to tuck-point and patios to resurface and laundry machines to replace and walls to paint and chimneys to sweep and basements to finish and…
…and so I am going to stop myself right there, almost a year into one of the biggest commitments of my life (outside of marriage and student loan debt and that time I spent too much on my Nordstrom’s card…) and stop analyzing the trees to appreciate the forest.
As I sit here writing this, there are a tremendous amount of things I could be doing to ever improve this house.
But my dog is curled up comfortably, looking out the front door which we throw open to let light into our main living area, patrolling the neighborhood; something he could never do from our beloved lakeshore condo in the sky.
My husband is cooking us shrimp scampi with fresh ingredients he picked up on his commute; something we never had time for when our days were long and our commutes were longer.
A white wine from our favorite vineyard chills and is begging to be uncorked and toasted. There is reading and puppy snuggles. There is laughter and dancing. There is art and industry. There are arguments and compromise. There are all the things we will carry with us wherever we live.
There is certainly work to be done here in this house, but there is, above all, the understanding that this place is already a home. Our home. Our trees that make a beautiful forest.