Home, right now, takes place on the third floor of a building. Every morning before the coffee pot gurgles in her majestic glory, David treks down three flights of stairs with a jumpy dog in his arms who is excited to stake her claim on nothing she has business staking her claim on. When David is out of town, I master the art of juggling with a baby strapped to my chest and that wiggly dog fighting her way out of my grasp. When she has decided she has sufficiently showered the grass with dominance, I scoop her into my arms and up we ascend three flights of stairs — me, my baby, and our dog.
Home, three years ago, took place on Georgia’s lush soil. Each day, we’d walk out onto that rich piece of earth and think of home. We’d think of family and palm trees and water. I hated it at first — that thick Georgia humidity will do that to a person — but I loved it in the end. I loved the warmth of the people and the simplicity of the culture. I loved it just in time for our tires to meet the westbound 40. And off we went, back to traffic and familiarity and expensive everything. Off we went, back to home.
Home, six years ago, took place in uncertainty. Each month we’d pay our dues to a machine that gladly accepted our higher rate of rent. We paid ourselves out of a contract in hopes that we’d find a plot of land to which we could permanently assign our lives. We worked with real estate agents who showed us overpriced condos, and we waited, David and I, we waited for just the right address. We waited and waited and waited.
And we’re still waiting.
Sometimes I get caught up in all of the waiting. It has a certain kind of torment, one of unsettledness. One where empty boxes wait, ready to be filled again. One where roots are withheld from taking hold for fear of being exterminated. Because it happens, it always does — extermination day.
And if I’m honest, I’d tell you that I’m bitter. I’d tell you that this California dirt is silently sucking us dry. I’d tell you that my heart is reeling from sticker shock and that it feels like the very place we call home is rejecting us, pushing us away from family and friends and everything we have come to know.
But when I think about it, when I take a step back and look at the big picture, I see that home is right in front of me. It’s in the way my husband reassures me after a hard day. It’s in the way my baby cries for me when merely hearing my voice. It’s in that wiggly dog and the way I can always count on her to sweep up random pieces of food that fall from Judah’s highchair.
Sometimes I wonder how we got here, so obsessed with the walls that confine what really matters. We slave for those walls. We work and work and work to pay for wood we then paint and hang our best pieces of art on. But home, to me, is so much more than a building. Home is a pair of worn-through dance shoes. It’s a rich conversation over warm coffee. It’s snuggling in with good book right before a solid night of sleep.
And it’s reasuring, really. Because at the end of the day, it’s me, my husband, our baby and that wiggly dog. And they are all the home I’ll ever need.
My home, sweet home.