I’ve been on a life-long search for a place where I belong. This search manifests in a myriad of ways, I now know, thanks to therapy. The idea of a ‘home place’ has been important to me for as long as I can remember, yet always seemed elusive.
There’s no place like home.
From a young age, I longed for this mantra to conjure up the same magical feels others attributed to it, to no avail. One could say it’s simply not in my DNA. For different reasons, both of my parents had little value for creating a sense of permanency for their children - at least the first go ‘round with my brother and me. I counted six different homes in one 18-month period when I was seven and eight years old. By the time my sister came along, eleven years after me, they’d settled down a bit.
During one period, my husband and I lived in five different states during five school years, kids in tow, to accommodate his climb up the corporate ladder. Once our oldest entered high school in Pittsburgh, we decided to stay put until all three of our kids graduated. We managed to do so, but relocated again the year after our youngest finished high school. Pittsburgh was my home for eight years.
Eight years is the longest I’ve lived in any one place.
I am coming up on the eighth anniversary of my relocation to Nashville. Here, I’ve counted three different addresses as ‘home.’ The most recent one, however, appears to be the keeper - at least for now. Four years ago, my husband and I fled the bulging-at-the-seams city for some acreage on the outskirts of town in search of tranquility, and when I first saw what would become our next home, there was an instant connection.
Still, for the first few years in this new house, I held it at arm’s length, unsure if I could allow myself to settle into its embrace. Through therapy, I explored my inability to nest, wondering what that was about, and discovered something that surprised me: I was ruled by a constant undercurrent of fear there’d be yet another move, another upheaval, more ‘letting go’ and saying good-bye. If I kept myself from getting too close, it wouldn’t hurt so much when I had to leave a place I felt secure in. As I unpacked these themes and processed them, I made the conscious decision to release my resistance to putting down roots. I was tired of the vigilance.
This weekend, I was overcome with the realization that I have finally settled in. As I hiked the mountainside of my property with one of my grandkids, stopping to leave treasures at a little altar, scaling “huge” (from a 4 year old’s perspective) rocks, and watching him climb up the steep slope of a downed tree as the sound of crunching leaves beneath the feet of playful squirrels filled the air around us, I fully felt this to be my home. I have a love for my home that surprises me - not a “Oh my goodness! Look at this showplace!” type of love, but the kind that’s demonstrated by Tidying-Up guru, Marie Kondo when she pauses to pay honor to a home before she guides its occupants in commencing the tidying.
I’ve settled into my home in a new way, allowing myself the sense of sentimentality I’d only experienced vicariously through a movie or a captivating book. I appreciate it, and I want to show it respect. I’m drawn to its woods and the earthy smell of damp leaves on the mossy ground. My home is my oasis; a safe place where I can inhale deeply when the pressure of the outside world becomes suffocating. It’s a gathering place for my grown children, their kids, and a circle of close friends. It’s where I can create, the kids can explore, and fond memories are made. Within its walls, we’ve hosted rowdy parties and intimate gatherings, laughed and cried (a lot), and forged meaningful connections. And for the first time, I’m not holding my breath waiting for the next move. I am fully present in this moment. I’ve got houseplants and paintings and gardens and room to roam. Here, I’m putting down roots. And if you ask me, there’s no place like it.