Monday, January 18, 2010

Putting Down Roots in the Bath

We are settling into our new life in Melrose. Just like in any new situation, there's the honeymoon phase and then the, 'uh oh, this isn't good' phase. And we're moving through both. There hasn't been any major surprises about the house, thank goodness. We are coming to see that the previous owners weren't exactly exacting about the wonderful updates they made. (Thanks for the brand new windows that don't actually close/lock, guys!) But we are coping and planning for what needs to be done.

I have noticed a shift in myself though, a shift that makes me happy. After leaving Pittsburgh for Washington DC so many years ago (ugh, was it really 15 years?), I haven’t lived in a place that felt like I was there for the long haul. DC was great but never felt like I'd stay, then off to grad school in California which was temporary, and then to Boston. Boston somehow managed to turn into "home" in a way that Pittsburgh, DC and Santa Barbara never did. DC was just too short of a visit. And Pittsburgh and Santa Barbara both call to me and still pull me in many ways, but the call is never one that said "you're home." I always felt a little itchy while living in both towns, like I wanted more than they could offer me. It's a very personal thing, and even an unpredictable thing. I have no family in New England. No history longer than my 12 years living here. But it's where my roots are now dug into the dirt, even moreso with the addition of my local-born husband with his two local kids and his enormous local family. Yep, I'm here for a long haul in New England -- not necessarily til the end of my life -- who knows where we'll go? but for a good while.

Despite my feeling that Boston would be home, I never settled on a physical home. I've had a apartments that I loved, no make that LOVED, and I still miss. But I knew they weren't IT. Part of it, yes, I'll admit, was waiting for Mr. Right. And part of it was knowing I didn't want rent going down the drain for many more years.

Here we are then, Mr. Right and I, our first home bought together. I've been unpacking and putting away dishes and hanging things on walls I haven't seen in a decade because where was I going to put them except in my new home? So there they are on the wall, my great-grandmother's apple crisp recipe in the kitchen. The beautiful Talavera plates from Mexico I never used because I didn't have a cupboard for them. The glass grape sculpture that my grandmother saved for me because no one else wanted it (I was fascinated by it as a kid). It's a wonderful feeling that my personality is now shaping this place. To surround yourself with things from your history and family and travels is such a pleasure.

The loudest signal, however, of my newfound acceptance of the new place is a small thing. I decided to take a bath. I can't explain it; I'm not a huge bath person as showers are just easier, but every once in a while, I enjoy the warm water and quiet time. Yet if I'm not really settled into a place I have no interest in the tub. But here, in our new home, it was time. And it felt great. I guess that means I'm home.

So how about you? How do you know if you're home (or not home?)


becky said...

I know exactly how you feel about home. Ever since I moved out of my parents house in 1996 and moved to Phoenix with my then fiance, I have not lived in any one location for more than 3-4 years. I really don't feel like any location in permanent. I actually feel that way now even though we have bought a home and moved back to Pittsburgh. I guess I won't be home until I can say we have been here more than 5 years! For me it is my husband that makes me doubt the ability to put down roots. He is constantly itching to do bigger and better things and frequently that means we have to pack up and move halfway around the world. So I don't know when I will sink in to my home and call it mine for a long time. I am glad that you are in that place. It is a nice place to be!

dillard said...

Becky -- thanks for the comment! So funny to hear that since I think of you as one of those who have "returned home" to where we grew up. Good luck on 5 years!