I hate moving. I’ll just get that out there so there’s no confusion. I’ve moved over 20 times in my young-ish life (not counting packing up every three months for three years at boarding school, or the come-and-go college thing) and that’s more than enough for anybody, even anybodies who like moving, which I’m pretty sure I was clear that I don’t.
On the other hand, there’s nothing quite as wonderful as finally moving out of [read: escaping] a place you don’t like living, especially if what’s waiting for you on the other end already feels like home. (Aside: Moving also doesn’t suck quite as much when you have good friends who help out — not just with the truck loading and whatnot, but also with the “Here, let me pack up your kitchen. That way you don’t have to evaluate whether or not you should keep the seven-eighths-empty container of chili powder that looks like an abandoned ant farm. I’ll decide, because I can evaluate the chili powder without sentiment or equivocation.” I’ve decided that the next time I move — God grant that it shall be far, far in the future — I’ll have friends pack up my whole house. There are enough pressing decisions to be made in the world without me having to agonize over near-empty spice bottles. Aside ends here.)
Ash and I bought a condo about three years ago, which seemed like an excellent idea at the time. They say that home ownership is the best investment you can make outside of an education, bloo-blee-bloo, and we took the plunge. Newsflash: Home ownership is the best investment you can make if you actually want to live where you buy a house. They neglected to mention this small (yet not insignificant) caveat, and we spent the last three years trying to make the best of living in a condo and a community that just never felt like home. In case you’re wondering, three years is a really, really long time to make the best of anything.
We sold our little place to a guy who seems genuinely excited about it (God bless him), and found a kick-ass little house to rent (God bless Craiglist) with a big back yard, hardwood floors, a separate space for Ash’s studio and Thai, Italian and Texas-style BBQ all within walking distance…not to mention terrific landlords, Marty and Eden, who live on a ranch in Santa Paula with four rodeo horses and 14 (yes, fourteen) rescue dogs.
When Ash and I came to take a look at this place three weeks ago, I walked through the side gate and thought, “Hey, it’s our home.” Being a third culture kid, I’ve maintained for a long time that “home” is people, not a place. But I’m starting to re-evaluate this position — I’m beginning to think that place matters.
This idea is still totally alien to me, but I think there’s something to it. What I’m thinking is that it’s not necessarily specific places — i.e., Wewoka, Oklahoma or Okefenokee, Georgia — it’s the vibe of a place that makes it matter. The values vibe. (Not speaking politically here.) Everybody has something that is really important to them, and if the place they’re livin’ doesn’t let them do that thing with some ease and regularity, it’s never gonna feel like “home.”
Before Ash & I got married, I lived on the Reisser Compound in what is still affectionately known as The Puppy Palace. Long ago, The Palace was Carrie’s playhouse, then a poolside changing area, then Zack’s House of Unspeakable Acts, then the birthplace of a litter of Chelsea the Wonder Dog’s (RIP) puppies, then a storage unit for stage costumes, then my apartment. (Now?? I don’t know. Maybe its original purpose has been revived for Ella.) But as booty as The Palace was, it was home — I could easily and regularly do the things that are important to me: hang out with friends in a beautiful place talking about and doing life, and be creative. And I haven’t had that since.
But…six years later (to the day), I find myself again, finally, “at home” in a place where I can do the things that are important to me — to recap: hang with friends, be creative — with ease and regularity. (And I don’t have to live in a former canine maternity ward to do so. Which is a plus.)
The point of this incredibly over-long post is that I’m grateful. God is good even when things are crap, and I’m glad to have experienced crap if only to recognize this important fact. But man, I’m a fan of blessings…and I can’t wait to share them with you. The side gate’s open. I’ve got fixin’s for s’mores. Bring a beverage. Make yourself at home.