Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.
John Ed Pearce
Somehow, it seems, there is a transition underway. One of the things that reflects that transition is the recurring theme of moving house.
A few months ago, my parents sold my childhood home and moved to a new apartment. A few weeks after their move, I and my fiancé bought our very own apartment. Well, technically it still belongs to the bank, but we’re paying them back bit by bit. In the following two weeks, we should get the floors and walls done at the new place and then transport every single one of our earthly possessions from the old apartment to the new one.
And we haven’t even started packing.
When is home really home?
Last night, a group of relatives were visiting my parents in their new place, and I stopped by to say hi. One of the things they asked me, in jest, was how I felt about my parents giving up my home. I laughed and answered that it hadn’t been my home for years, and so I really didn’t mind.
But there is a slight change in tone between their old place and the new one. The old place was, as I mentioned, my childhood home. We moved there when I was four, and I first moved out at the age of nineteen. I returned a couple of years later to live there for a few months as I started university and was looking for a place of my own. When I moved out, I still lived in the same city, so I visited every few weeks, and I never gave up the keys.
This was the place where I started school, and where I celebrated my confirmation. This was where I stressed about my Finnish matriculation exam so much I spent the previous night vomiting, and where I returned at eight in the morning after a long graduation day-turned-night party. This was where my sister spent the last months of her life and where she passed away. Decades and decades of memories.
The new place, on the other hand, is clearly my parents’ home. I’m welcome, of course, but it’s different. When I go visit, I’m a guest. In a way, it’s refreshing, too – imagine the 22 years of emotional baggage that had proverbially piled up in the corners of the old place. There’s something very promising about a new home – even if it’s not my home anymore.
If my parents didn’t move house for 22 years, I sure have done my best to balance the stakes. I know that in the grand scheme of things, moving house six times in the past seven years is not exactly a world record. It does make me ponder, though, whether I’ve really felt at home where I’ve been staying.
During the time I’ve been with my fiancé, we’ve had a total of four moves between us, three of them together from one shared apartment to another. The upcoming one will be our fourth one.
What has made each of those apartments a home? Since we both lead unnecessarily busy lives, our home does sometimes feel like a depot for quick pit stops. Our home feels most like a home when both of us have enough time to take care of the home – doing the dishes, folding the laundry, the regular stuff. I feel most at home when I’m folding laundry in a relatively tidy bedroom, or I’m doing the dishes after cleaning up the entire kitchen.
Our home feels like a home when we put in the effort of taking care of it so it can take care of us in return.
I guess that might be one of the secrets to settling down and having a great home that feels like a home. When you routinely maintain a tidy, pretty home, you feel appreciated – even though the appreciation really only reflects your own actions. If you ignore your home, it will reflect back on to you as well. Settling down means taking the whole “having a home” thing seriously, I guess.
How lovely of you to stop by again – keep catching your own insightings and feel free to share them in the comments!