Back in the days before pinterest, I used to keep a folder in my filing cabinet labeled “Home Dreaming.” I would tear cute/pretty/clever pictures out of magazines to keep for reference when we started building or remodeling our forever home.
A forever home. That’s how it was supposed to go. We were going to get settled into a secure job somewhere, have a couple of babies, and then buy or build a home. It would be the only home our children would remember as they grew up, and there would be enough space that someday they could all bring their families home together for the holidays.
I guess that went about as well as most newlywed plans go.
Our dream house would have tons of storage and room for everyone to have privacy. It would be a story and a half with a full basement. There would be a fireplace in the living room and a woodstove in the basement. The master bedroom would have a private bath – with a small jacuzzi. We’d have a porch that wrapped around two sides of the house, a mudroom that opened onto a flat, grassy backyard with a clothesline. There would be a garden just beyond the clothesline. Somewhere (probably in that same folder if I haven’t trashed it yet) I have my pencil drawings of that house of practicality and wonders.
It’s funny how dreams change.
We’ve just finished remodeling our living room in our current home. Since we live at a summer camp, we moved out of the dusty construction zone and into another camp building for a few weeks before Christmas.
I learned a few things about myself while we were there. Surprising things. I’ve been carrying around this “dream house” in my head for a long time now. It gets mentally remodeled and redecorated as different things come in style and my tastes change, but that someday-forever dream house is always there.
During those two and a half weeks of living in a 3-story house, I kept hearing myself say to Roger, “I’m ready to go home. I miss our house.” I missed the coziness of this place; the fact that we’re always in each other’s business – because there’s no room to be anywhere else. I don’t lose my kids here.
And at some point I realized: it’s been awhile since I’ve visited that virtual dream house. I think just maybe we’re already living in my dream home. Which is funny, because this place has so many strikes against it.
- Our long, narrow driveway is perched on the side of a hill. Either you back in or you back out. Pick your poison. (The UPS truck almost went over the edge once. We only realized this because we noticed our little maple tree had been killed. And then we saw the muddy tire track and realized that maybe the tree is what tipped him off that he was getting ready to… tip off. After that I told him to deliver our packages to the camp kitchen.)
- The front door opens directly into my kitchen. As soon as you step in the door, you get a clear view of most of our house. Kitchen, laundry room, dining room, living room, hall, and all the way into Wesley’s room. All of our mess, all of the time. We can’t hide anything from a casual visitor.
- The dining room is… awkward. And smallish. Mostly just awkward. Oh, and our main bathroom opens directly into it. Who does that? There’s nothing like a nice view of a toilet as you’re sitting down to a good homemade meal at the end of the day.
- The back door opens into one of the kids’ bedrooms. There’s nothing weird about that either, right?
- Our bedroom opens directly into the living room. Great for privacy. This wasn’t originally built as a single-family home. It’s had a long history of uses, and the layout shows that. It can drive the efficiency-loving part of me insane.
- And the big clincher: We don’t own this house and never can. It’s part of camp property and it came with the job. When Roger makes improvements to this house, it makes his wife happy, and makes life nicer for all of us, but we’ll still have to walk away from it someday. It’s kind of a long-term temporary arrangement. Just like everything else on planet earth.
I was going to make another list of all the things I love about this house, but I think I’ll skip that. Because the point is: it’s possible to be completely happy in a house that was never one of your intentions. Maybe you’re “stuck in” a home somewhere that you didn’t choose – or wouldn’t have chosen if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.
Live in it. Love people in it. Make memories in it. Let yourself feel at home there. Maybe someday you’ll get a chance to make some of your home dreaming come true – or maybe you’ll find a different dream. Remember: it’s not a convenient layout or beautiful decor that makes a house a home. It’s:
It’s your personal version of this:
But you already know that.