I've fallen in love with a house. Head over heels with its cheerful, cheeky red door and modern, grey clapboard face. Crazy for the peaks of its triangular roof and the wide, long swathes of its windows bathing the bones of the rafters in shimmering sunlight. The house is full of light, saved from a spartan existence by the warmth of the dark wood floors and the exposed beams of the vaulted ceilings. Stainless steel fixtures, twinkle and beckon across a sea of pure, unblemished white counter top. Behind the house, enormous stately trees hold down the four corners of the yard. In the distance beyond the twisted wire fence, the wide expanse of the green fairway is alive with twittering birds as far as the eye can see.
I've been waiting for this house for a long time, feeling the urgency to create this space nipping at my heels for years. Up until now, I've lived my life in rooms designed for others, crafted to suit someone else's idea of home. For the first time, I'll have a chance to settle our family in a space I love, one that inspires me. It's a luxury that beckons brilliantly but it can be deceptive.
In the beginning, when my affair with this house began, I could imagine how much better our lives might become within its freshly painted walls. That somehow the sleek, modern lines would make our messy, patched together existence stunning and graceful. This is a modern fairytale. You know it. I know it. But we allow ourselves the indulgence of dreaming it anyway.
I'm learning this lesson as I begin the packing process. The house we've bought has been completely remodeled after a foreclosure and stands empty- a beautiful, hollow shell. As I sift through the messy chaos of outdated decor, half broken toys and dog eared mementos, I'm struggling with despondency. I am seized with the urge to set fire to everything we own when I pack. The task is always overwhelming. This time, the problem is compounded by the thought that most of the things I own, most of the life I lead, does not seem worthy of such lofty, gorgeous framing. I often have to step back and remind myself that this house we've bought is not a home yet. It is not full of the life it was designed to hold. And while it may have lovely bones, they are just that. Devoid of substance and deceptively flattering.
We will have to simplify our lives in many ways to pursue this love affair. The challenge of it excites me. There is a purposeful appeal to living smaller, to being consciously frugal. I hope it will encourage us all to stop investing in clutter and focus on what we really need. While impressive inside, the house is less square footage than we have lived in since we first had children. It's a stretch for us financially. We'll have to give up the luxury of spending freely and without guilt. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make to create a home I can love, but it comes with trepidation. Because focusing on the details and the walls we surround ourselves with will not build happiness. It's just mortar and plaster and wood. And I have to remind myself that's not what happiness or a home is made of. The important things are always bigger than any four walls can contain- laughter, warm welcome and deep, comfortable affection. I hope in the end, we can have the dream. A beautiful space where we can focus on getting the most out of our life together.
"Where thou art, that is home." Emily Dickinson
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