A few months ago, my husband and I were living with my parents when my dad let us know that he had rented the house out. The lease started in two weeks. I spent a week searching for places to go. I couldn’t find something affordable for just me and Kenny. I couldn’t find something enticing enough to convince my mom the four of us could share it. I grew increasingly anxious as the days passed.
When friends and family asked why I was so stressed, I said because in a matter of days, I would be homeless. They didn’t seem to understand. “Don’t worry, you won’t end up on the streets.” “That’s a little dramatic.” “I’m sure you have somewhere you can go.” They seemed to miss the point. I wasn’t concerned that I would actually end up on the streets. I wasn’t going to become shelter-less. I was going to be home-less.
In an effort to help, somebody asked me what it was that I was looking for, my bare minimum. I listed the following requirements: 1. Something that would last four months (until my baby is born and we have recovered for a week or two), 2. Something that could fit a bed for us and a small bassinet for our baby, 3. Something safe, and 4. Something affordable. A small list of demands, really. The issue was, none of these demands covered the amorphous thing I was looking for. It wasn’t really a demand- I didn’t need something big or urban or a yard or a dishwasher or friendly neighbors. It wasn’t about any one thing. It was about a sense of “home.”
It turns out, “home” is a really difficult concept to explain.
One day as I was feeling woefully bad about my impending homeless status, I was doing something on my iPad and just before I put it away, I clicked the “home” button to return to the “home” screen. I realized that, ironically, technology has captured the concept of “home,” better than I could. We use a home screen or a home button to denote a sort of baseline space. Click the home button and all the clutter and noise of apps and activities go away. You’re brought back to your home space. The home screen is where you go to start over- when you’re done with an activity or you’re switching between activities or finishing your time on your device. At the end of it all, is just… home.
THIS is what I was looking for! I wanted a space that felt like a home screen. I wanted somewhere where, at the end of each activity and at the day, I could return and reset and organize my life. No matter how generous the offer was, an offer to stay on somebody’s couch would not provide this “home” space. A month-to-month lease wouldn’t either- there was too much uncertainty. I needed just a little bit of permanence, just enough space to be organized, and also just enough independence that I was in my home not someone else’s.
Unfortunately, pregnancy is a credibility-killer. My family was quick to brush away my feelings as a hormone-fueled need to “nest.” I’m sure hormones played into my sense of urgency, but isn’t “home” a concept that we all crave?
Home is different for everyone. For some, home is where family is. For others, home is where that one duffle bag of possessions is. Still others think of home as a place where memories are made and held. For me, home is where I spend my restful time and recharge. I am an introvert and a serious homebody, so having a home space is vital to me.
In the end, I found a place and we moved in with about two days to spare. It feels quiet here. We are in a city, there’s somebody talking in the hallway, a lawn mower outside, and a dog barking next door, so I don’t mean physically quiet. I mean that the space provides “quiet” for me. I feel like I can start and end things without constantly dropping the ball. I have the mental energy and space to tackle projects and problems because my physical space provides me with quiet and calm. I feel like by walking in I am pushing my own “home button” and entering my baseline space. I feel at home.