Home thoughts

As I've been going through this process of packing up, moving, and unpacking in a new place, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what makes a home. It clearly isn't the fact that your stuff is all with you. My evidence? The completely and total sobbing meltdown that L. had last night because, "I miss our old house." This was after she had spent the past two days opening up boxes and discovering all the things they contained. Last night, the first floor was even looking somewhat lived in, and a lot less like a moving company storage facility. So, it's not just the stuff being in your living space.

I think it is more how you feel about it. Are you comfortable? Do you know where everything is? When you wake up in the middle of the night, do you have to stop and think for a moment where you are, or do you just know? It is these things that I think my children are currently missing. In truth, I'm missing them a bit, too, but I'm the one doing the bulk of the unpacking, so I have spent the past week cleaning and organizing and getting things organized, so I think I am feeling the most comfortable as a result. A place doesn't feel terribly home-like when even the most basic tasks take conscious effort rather than being automatic. We have to figure out how our family is going to function is our new space. How do meals work? How does the laundry work? Where do we play, read, eat, sleep, find places to be alone? All this was automatic in our old house, and these things need to be figured out again. It takes time. Each day we all feel a little bit more comfortable. Each day everyone figures out a little bit more where everything is.

When I was at the library with the littles this past weekend, I picked up a book that I found, and it is feeling entirely appropriate for our current phase in life. I picked up it both because of it's title and because it's by Bill Bryson. I really enjoy Bill Bryson's books. They are usually informative as well as having moment of being so funny, I want to read sections out loud to J., and then end up laughing so hard I cannot do it. (In truth, I haven't found a part in this current book which reaches this level of humor, but I'm still at the beginning, so I have hope.) Anyway, the book is, At Home: A Brief History of Private Life. I'm enjoying it, and it is full of interesting bits of history and how it all relates to the houses we live in today. Even though I'm still only in the first few chapters, I'm going to recommend it to anyone who is interested in the subject.


Donna said…
Given our lifestyle, this post him home on a few points.

First, I am not so sure about the "stuff." It isn't the whole thing, of course, but right now Kristen would feel a whole lot more at home if she had her stuff. She hasn't seen it, hugged it, smelled it, for over two months, and it's hard to feel settled without your comfortie things around you. I don't know how long it will be until there is a place for the stuff but I have a feeling she will be struggling to come to terms with our latest move until it does.
Second, this sentence really struck me: "A place doesn't feel terribly home-like when even the most basic tasks take conscious effort rather than being automatic." whoa. That pretty much sums up the last seven years of my/our life. No matter if we have our own apartment and our stuff, I don't think we have ever gotten past the most basic tasks being unconscious. Grocery shopping? no Cooking? no Cleaning? no Watching TV? no Reading a book? Well, the reading goes ok, but accessing a book? NO! Even brushing my teeth requires me to get water from the water machine to use in the bathroom because I don't use tap water.
I'll have to think about this more, and it will probably end up as a blogpost on my blog (shameless plug: DonnaChina.org). Thanks for the food for thought...and everything else.

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