September 4, 2014

thoughts on home...

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“I’ve finally figured out that almost no one is living in their dream house.
And I don’t know anyone whose life has gone exactly like they would have planned.
You make the best choices you can at the time with the information you have,
and then you deal with the consequences, and that’s the part where your life happens.”
— Myquillyn Smith

I recently bought a new book, The Nesting Place, and it has me thinking a lot about home. I'm only a couple chapters into the book, but her outlook is beautiful—and I love reading the story of someone who has the life experience to talk openly and honestly about how reality can far outweigh the hopes and dreams we all have in our younger years. I also love that she is a renter, and it is so refreshing (and uncommon) to find any resources or encouragement when it comes to making a rental feel like your own space.

Rentals seem to be seen as the in-between…the places you just have to deal with until you buy a place of your own and can paint the walls, plant a garden, add shutters to the windows, and replace the bathtub that is not particularly pretty or shiny or new. You have to worry about landlords and security deposits and neighbors (especially if you share a wall with someone, as we have done our entire marriage). There's a sense of settling—which is probably accurate in some ways, because I know if I had the opportunity to buy a home I'd do it in a heartbeat. But where we live, at least, it's very tricky. And I can think of only a couple people I know personally who purchased a home in their 20s or 30s. It just doesn't happen here. Starter homes don't really exist. Starter apartments are a more accurate expectation!

Our first apartment was definitely a bit of a wreck—leaky roof, Jay's car being broken into (in our gated, locked garage, nonetheless), limited street parking, cabinets with layers and layers of thick white paint, feral cats, a pool that was probably not sanitary to actually swim in, etc.—but it's a part of our story. Much like our current residence is. This cozy duplex is so full of memories, I know it will be tough to walk out the door for the last time, whenever that time comes.

For the past few years, I've made a definite effort to both make this place feel like home and to also see it as such. To stop viewing it as an in-between. To make simple, inexpensive changes to the decor in order for a room to feel like new. To focus on the benefits of room-sharing with a 3 year old. To realize how good we have it, all things considered, and how much I love coming home to this place after any amount of time away. After all, we've been here for more than six years, so this is home. It's the only home our daughter has known, and it's the place we've lived for most of our marriage.

Still, owning a house is the dream. It has always been the dream. It will be the dream until we can have one of our own, whenever that may be. Sooner, later (I don't want to say never). But I love realizing that there aren't many people out there my age (in this part of the country, at least) who are actually living that dream, easily residing in the perfect home with a white picket fence. I may shed a crocodile tear or two when I calculate how much we've spent on rent for the past six years, but still. Because we were renting, we've built up a pretty little nest egg that will hopefully help us out when the perfect opportunity comes along. And who knows? It could be sooner than later.

Until then, I will continue to make this rental our home. (And maybe start to pester the landlord a bit about the chipping paint in the living room. I must admit, it is rather nice not having to foot the bill for these sorts of things.)

Affiliate link included in this post. Yep, yep.

3 comments :

  1. "The Nesting Place" is one of my favourite books! My husband and I own our condo but we purchased it six years ago with the intention of it being an "in between place" - it was what we could afford at the time and we planned to move into a house within a year or two. But then life happened, and two kids and a dog later we're still in the same tiny condo. We still dream of owning a house but for now, this is home, and I need to start thinking of it as home and not an in between place, and maybe put more than one picture on the walls :)

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  2. Amen. I purchased the book a few months ago, while we were in the middle of moving, at that, and it really hit home for me. You're right - starter homes don't exist in Southern California, and you know what? I'm okay with it. My home is just a few walls. It's what I do with the space, and who I share it with, that really matter :)

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  3. I love the Nester! She is so real and inspiring. Sooo... we bought our first home (!) last December... and it still doesn't quite feel like home. The awesome thing is that we can do ANYTHING we want to it! The downside is that we can't really afford to do what we want because of dumping all our savings into the down payment and having a mortgage and all the realities of maintaining a home - like having to repaint the outside to prevent deterioration instead of painting the INSIDE, or paying for yard maintenance (our backyard was seriously a jungle of 3 foot high weeds) instead of purchasing a pretty new mirror for the living room. It's definitely one of those things where I have to realize that it takes a long time (at least for non-design savvy me) for a home to really come together; to accumulate those things and memories that will really make this house feel like "home." I also feel a weird sort of pressure now, like, "ok, we finally have our own place! I need to do something!" and I don't have any clue what I want it to look like. I'm thankful for the Nester for encouraging people to just work with what they have and that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. Her blog, alone, has inspired me to actually DO something without being so self-conscious, or feeling like it has to be right the first time, and that is hugely freeing for me. And, for the record, this is the first time either of us have owned and we are mid-30's. It sort of blows my mind that a 25 year old could afford a house, but I know it happens...

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