I'm sorry it's been so quiet around here...but don't say I didn't warn you. Remember how I said that it was all just too fresh to write about just yet? Still true. Well...maybe not completely. There is something from NOW that I'm dying to write about: our imperfect house. The house we live in now we rent...and it's pretty sufficient to say that it is the antithesis of a "dream home." Instead of new and updated and upgraded and handpicked it's old and cute and charming and eccentric and small and in the perfect location.
For goodness sake there is popcorn ceiling in 80% of the place and weird office building tiles over our dining room. Barring just a few features on my list of "must haves" it is completely void of dreaminess. And shouldn't each house be closer to dreaminess than the last? Shouldn't we propel ourselves forward by way of mortgage?
I'm being a little tongue and cheek....but as I've discovered through our imperfect rental, those were VERY real things I was believing. I found myself wanting to tell people that even though we were renting this house now, we used to own a house that was big[ger] and nice and very very dreamy in places. Even though I've fought the idea most of my life, the idea of 'bigger, better, more' lived on in me although it was masked in romantic ideals.
Let me take a moment here and explain these romantic ideals I'm referring to. First of all I'm a writer married to an artist...so I mean you could honestly just stop there and feed on the stereotypes all day long. But a while ago we watched the documentary "Tiny" (which I completely and whole heartedly recommend, it's light and fun and thought provoking in an optimistic way) and it challenged our thinking and drew out this inner rebel (alright...my "inner" rebel...Austin's normal, but freshly inspired rebel). All the sudden we were questioning things about the American approach to buying a home that we had always taken for granted. It all boiled down to one very basic question.
What is our house for?
What purpose do we want our house to serve? We want our home to serve as a place for our family to BE (to dwell, to have sanctuary, to grow, to laugh, to love one another) and to nurture relationships with others through hospitality.
So a tiny home is out. But a huge home--maybe that's out too. There is a whole universe of wants for a perfect dream home, but what of those is necessary for the purpose of our home? Almost none.
Although I will admit, aesthetics do matter, no one feels cozy in a butt ugly room. So we whittled out the perimeters that our home had to fit into. It had to be big enough to enjoy a little distance from each other occasionally and to host small groups of people, but it had to be small enough that it physically enabled the intimacy we want our family to have. It had to be decent looking, i.e. not butt ugly. It had to be near safe and well rated schools. It had to have the basic necessities: running water, safety, AC & heat. It had to be located in a part of the city where we wanted to live our life out. Living in a space that may not be our dream and having to commute to our life...not what we were going for.
Also you should know the time line. We moved out of our first home (and the one I brought all my babies home to *insert about 30 cry-fests*) on December 29th and lived with people from our church until we moved to Texas on Jan 12th and then stayed with Austin's parents until February 1st when we moved into our home (and I should emphasize that both our hosts were extremely wonderful and gracious and helpful...we just weren't in our own space and boy did our kids know it, but that's for another day). When we were in Davenport I jokingly told some friends that I'm sure by the time we are able to get a house that I will walk in the door, take one quick look around, ask one question: "Can our family be alone here?" and then sign on the dotted line. And folks...that's pretty much how it happened.
The house is so far from what I would have dreamed up. I would love to tell you that I didn't notice any of it, that I was so grateful and content that I never even noticed the weird beige moldings or the dishwasher in the wall or did I mention the office building tiles? But I noticed. 90% of the time I didn't even care, but for a very real 10% of the time (alright fine. it was flip flopped proportions the first couple of days) I had to pray through gratitude and contentment and against the american dream and the pinterest envy. I had to remind myself of what we really want...and that being one of the houses on houzz.com is really of little significance in the big picture. I really was so happy about our home, I don't wan to make it sound like I was throwing an inner tantrum or pity party. It's simply difficult to make decisions that go against the grain and then to sit in the reality of those decisions.
But it's right. It's so right for us. And it's the beginning of our adventure.
Then I started reading the book The Nesting Place. Who would have thought a home design book could be so life giving? The tag line of this book is "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." And oh am I finding that to be true. Myquillyn Smith challenges her readers to take risks in decorating, to embrace the "signs of life" in your furniture and home, to stop making apologies for things that aren't perfect and recognize imperfection as an invitation for guests to be imperfect as well. Seriously, Myquillyn: you are my hero and if you are ever in Fort Worth I would love to have you over for coffee in the dining room behind the beige plywood bookcase. You gave me the courage I needed to LIVE in our home.
This home is our home. We have a home. We have a life. And you know--I've never seen our kids blossom so much. We don't have our Narnia backyard anymore but our small backyard with a fence is so much more accessible to them now. We have LIVED in this backyard. The house is smaller but by being all on one level our kids have spread out and adventured more than they ever have before. We host friends and family and stay up late and wake up early. We use big plastic shelves because there is no storage and we eat all together at the big table with the bird centerpiece. We've cried together in bed and declared adventures in the city by evening. We've taken risks and made a monster sized gallery wall. We've hung our Andy Warhol prints on the bright lemon walls in the kitchen and burned a few sweet potatoes for dinner with friends.
We're living in our home and we're doing it imperfectly and it's so impossibly perfect.
Listen to my Home Playlist!