July 7, 2016

where we belong...

These days, I think a lot about where we are supposed to be. Where I'm supposed to be. If I'll ever reach a place and be able to look around me and think, "Yes, this is it. This is home, the community around me is my community, this place is where we will plant our roots, this is where we can invest ourselves, this is where we belong. We're finally here."

There are moments I wonder if this is ever something that actually happens in real life. Is it one of those expectations I've completely invented and assumed would happen for me? Something that only happens in books and movies and in the olden days when certain seasons of life seemed much simpler? I think about my own parents, who have moved and lived so many different places during their marriage—and even though they settled down for many years in the home where I spent most of my childhood and teenage years, they ended up selling that home and living many places since that time. (I still get a little weepy over the loss of that home. Cue Miranda Lambert's "House that Built Me" and get me a bottle of wine.)

I know plenty of people who think they're settled, but their lives end up taking them somewhere else altogether.

Maybe we just are where we are at any given moment, and should just...be. Which is a delightful outlook, but also a little bit maddening. I don't know why, but there are times I rebel against the many sentiments that encourage us to simply bloom where you are planted or to realize that home is wherever you are. There are times it's easy to embrace and act upon these sorts of things, but right now it is just difficult for a variety of reasons. I was recently listening to a podcast that I had to turn off because hearing a woman who lives on a beautiful farm out in the country tell me how she had to learn to just love where she was, as imperfect as it was, definitely did not put me in the right mood at that moment.

(Granted, I've never lived on a farm. And know nothing about chickens and gardening and charming old barns. But, still...I'd gladly get my hands dirty on some farm if it meant being free from the absolute madness of what our current apartment situation has been offering us. I'd love to close the windows to drown out the sound of a rooster as opposed to a wildly offensive domestic dispute from a neighboring apartment. Oh, I have stories. So many stories.)

As always, it's a very personal thing—and one woman's paradise is somewhere another woman would never be able to thrive. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would look at my situation and completely not understand how it would be hard for someone to feel content and thrive in this beautiful part of the country. Southern California is filled with many beautiful things, but (as I've mentioned before) my heart will always belong in the Northwest, where I grew up. And of course, I know that if we do move back someday, I'll leave a part of my heart here. After all, this is where I found my bravery, where I met and married my husband, where we had both our daughters. This place has been home in some ways, but not in the deeper, more significant way that makes you feel like you truly belong somewhere.

In the past decade, I've learned a few things about where I belong. Or, rather, where I think I belong. Where I want to belong. Where many past versions of myself have felt at peace, experienced comfort, made countless memories.

Here are some things I don't think will ever change: I prefer the country to the city. I prefer the forest to the beach. I have no desire to own a large home, but a comfortably small space of our very own would be a dream come true. My life needs nature, trees, and a place to sit and think without any traffic noise. I want my daughters to live somewhere with a yard, in a safe neighborhood, where we can make our home truly our own. The idea of limiting the size of our family based on the living space we can afford in this part of the country breaks my heart a little bit. And being within driving distance of my parents, in-laws and sisters easily trumps anything our current location has to offer. 

Who knows where we will end up five years, ten years, twenty years down the road. Even one year from now, odds are we will be somewhere new. (Hopefully much sooner than that, to be honest.) I just think a lot about this lately, because I can't say that I've ever felt completely settled since I moved here more than a dozen years ago. Every place I've been has been one more step in reaching the elusive someday home. I'm warming more to the idea of settling down here for the time being—as in actually purchasing a home instead of renting. Perhaps if we do end up buying a place of our own here, I'll feel like we are truly home.

I know that more than one place in a lifetime can feel like home, but I look forward to when I can honestly say that we are there. That this is it.


  1. I can totally relate to this (right down to the pining-for-a-country-farm-ish thing). I'm now going on over ten years in our current town, something I never, ever thought would happen (and with no plans to move anytime in the near future). Five years out (heck, even one year out) is basically a wide open field of open choices, and it can definitely be frustrating to know how much of myself to invest in where we're currently at.

    This comment is definitely not to say that I have any answers or any wisdom to share, but it's just to say that I understand. And that I thank you for writing down what I've failed to be able to articulate myself.


  2. It's strange how much renting contributes to this feeling. My parents and in laws have been in their homes for upwards of 20 years and so home was always home as a child. In Sheffield I always longed to live nearer the countryside, to be able to go for walks easily, have more room, have a garden not a paved yard. And now we have all those things and I have to keep reminding myself of the contrast instead of longing for the next thing (actually owning not renting!!). Yet equally I look back on Sheffield with so much fondness and in many ways long for that 'home'- not the physical aspect but the people and roots we had there which are taking so long to re establish at the other end of the U.K. I kind of feel impatient to move again which is odd. I guess I'm learning that it's both the place and the community that makes home home. (And how I invest in it!) xx

  3. I think I listened to that same podcast, and even though I do feel at home where I am in many ways, it was still so unrelatable to me! I had a couple of eye roll moments.

    In my case, I think we are settled for good because all of our family is here (which is really the most important thing) and we have a house that is good for us. I do still struggle with building community, though, because even though I grew up in this area I still only have like two friends that I see. I'm hoping that through our new church we can build closer friendships, but it's pretty hard when we're working all the time.

    I also don't think I'd choose to live in this part of the country on my own (the summers, dear God, are killer, and I'd also prefer forest to beach, and a smaller town to a huge city) but we've pretty much decided that we'd never consider moving while our families are here. So for me it is a case of bloom where you are planted, but I doubt I'll ever have it all!

  4. I can completely relate to the feeling of wondering if that 'this is it, this is home' feeling will ever come... I feel like we've been moving and always anticipating the next thing in the last few years and I wonder - even now that we bought a house - if I will ever feel settled. My parents bought my childhood home when I was 10 and they have lived in the same town all their lives.... so (in Germany) there is definitely something like putting roots down and staying put... but from what I've learned, that is far less common in the US, and maybe we have to search for the feeling, not really for a physical place. It's hard though.

  5. I feel you on your comment about limiting your family size because of your space. Except with ours it's limiting our family size because of the cost of childcare. :-/


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