Home

I haven’t written here for a long time, partly because I’ve been busy but mostly because we were gone for a week until Sunday.  The day before we left for vacation with my family in the Colorado mountains, we got a call from our landlord that he’d found a renter for our place – and they want to move in on August 9!  That same morning, I met with the housing committee at our new building (they’re pretty fancy, you have to go to an orientation before you can get your keys…) and set our move-in date for August 6.  AKA, this Saturday.  Then we went away on vacation and lived for seven sublime days without thinking of all the things we need to do this week.  And now we’re home, and Galen is at work, and I am weeding through all of our belongings trying to find the best way to pack each one.  (While still applying for jobs, trying to find time to actually legally change my name and take care of accompanying pains-in-the-butt, and working on several other important projects too.)

It’s quite the week.

When we were leaving Colorado, my oldest sister asked me to take pictures of our current apartment before everything is packed away, since none of my family members ever actually got to see it.  I took a bunch just now.  They don’t do our lovely little treehome justice – the lighting is funky, there are things and coats and shoes strewn about, there are unwashed dishes on the counter, it’s sort of a mess.  There are pictures from the past 11 months that make it look like a much nicer apartment – those Pinteresty, artsy sort of photos that only show very small areas at a time and leave it to you to imagine that the rest of the place looks just as good.  But this is where we are today.  This is what home looks like right now.

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This is what you see immediately on entering.  The arched doorway straight ahead leads to the coat closet (dead center) and the bathroom (to the left).  The door on the white wall leads to the bedroom, and there’s an unseen doorway (immediately to your right) going into the kitchen.

This is my favorite wall of the apartment.  I love our cubicle bookshelf, the decorative shelves above, the sconces on the wall to the left, the yellow archway, the hanging window with our caketopper-foxes inside, the small delapidated bookshelf that Galen and I once carried across all of Logan Square – the one with a vase my dad made and a dried out flower arrangement from our Urbana wedding reception on it.  Plus, that blue just gives me joy.

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I’m going to miss this big window.  You can’t tell from the picture, but there’s a massive tree right outside that gives us shade and a nice reminder that nature does, in fact, exist – even in the concrete jungle of Chicago.

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We never quite finished this wall.  Those beautiful watercolors on the wall above the table are from my brother Jon and his wife Megan; they’re of Prague and Paris, respectively, two of my favorite cities in the world.  We’ve always meant to have them framed but they’re sort of funky sizes so it’s not as easy as one would assume.

This is a good layout picture.  The door to the left is the bedroom (which, oddly enough, I forgot to take pictures of – sorry) and the door to the right is the kitchen.  You can tell because it’s orange.

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This is another sort of unfinished wall.  That’s the front door there, and next to it you can see an old hat/coat rack I’ve carried around the country with me, an armchair/ottoman that we basically live on when we’re home, a framed picture that says “Let’s build something beautiful” with Legos (a gift from Galen’s brother Thomas and his wife Becky) and a lovely cherry wood cabinet that we always meant to put shelves above.  Also seen in that corner: Galen’s ukulele, a monkey lamp, and a framed print of a spaceship that my dad saw a guy making and asked him to autograph it for Galen.

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Our funky bathroom.  The bathmat covers the fact that the floor is actually made up of three different kinds of tile, and our shower curtain mostly covers the fact that there is actually a window in our shower (which has another shower curtain over it to slow water damage down).  This shower-window has been the bane of our bathroom’s existence.  It is horrible.  And unfortunately, it seems to be kind of a thing in Chicago.  My guess is that most of these buildings weren’t built to be apartments, and when they were converted into them, nobody felt like taking the time to fill them in.

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This is what you see on leaving the bathroom.  This bulletin board is full of things that make us happy to see every day, and the yellow archway was our way of saying “HA” to the fact that we’re adults.

(Another shout-out to my dad’s vase on the shelf to the right, and also to the red candle you can see on a glass dish – that is the deliciously scented candle we used to signify our union during our wedding ceremony while the incomparable Hannah Cruz played the most gorgeous wedding song ever.  By the way, man, our music was tremendous.  Thanks, Little Darlings!)

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This is our kitchen.  It’s usually cleaner than this.  It is always, however, just as orange.  You can see the corner of our fridge on the left, covered with pictures and letters from babies we love and are related to.  Galen built the shelving unit all by himself, which is awesome because before that we literally had no counter space.  We painted the window blue to match the living room in another assertion of our whimsicality.

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And lastly, this is our tiny stove from Europe, which was brought in after we had been here for about a week.  It is the smallest appliance of its kind I’ve ever seen.  Hanging above it, you can see the apron my sister Beth gave me, some cute animal measuring spoons from Becky that we just couldn’t bear to put away in a drawer, a calendar I’ve made with all billion of our relatives’ birthdays in it, and a bunch of white shadow-box frames holding things that are good for me to see every day, like a case of blue seaglass and another frame holding our wedding vows.  I don’t know why, but I tend to be at my most irritable in the kitchen for whatever reason, so having our vows there above the stove (vows like promising to strive after charity, to put reconciliation above pride, and to be with and for each other wherever we go) has been good.

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I’ve been thinking about our vows a lot lately, come to think of it, since our first year anniversary is only a few months away.  “I promise to be with and for you wherever we go.”  I asked for that sentence to be added into our vows because I wanted to be accountable to God, Galen and everyone present; I wanted (and want) the most important people in my life to remind me that location always, always, always comes second to the one I’m going there with.  When we made those promises to each other, we had agreed to stay in Chicago for just one year.  Now it’s two.  I can’t say right now whether it will be three or not; we’ll decide that next spring.  And it doesn’t really matter, strange as it is to admit.  The particular apartment we’re in, the colors we paint it, the things we put in it, how close we are to the water.  It’s all good stuff to think about and plan for and take care of, but it’s all still just stuff.   I’m grateful for it.  I’m more grateful for the one I get to share it with.

Some weeks ago a friend from college called to chat while he was on a long drive.  After awhile the conversation turned to how strange it is to move from home to school, from school to home – how everything sort of stops feeling like home once you haven’t lived there in a long time, how home changes and your feelings toward it change and how pretty soon you can’t even define what “home” is anymore.  Many of you probably know that this has been a pet topic of mine for some years.  I don’t mean to say that I have an answer for it or even anything hugely thoughtful to say about it; I mean pretty much the opposite.  I mean that questions like that are among my favorite to ask and to wonder about.  My friend asked what I think of, right now, as my home.  I said I didn’t know, and rambled some lengthier ways of saying that same thing.  My definition of what “home” means to the twenty-something crowd changes pretty much weekly.  This week, as I pack up one home and begin planning what another will look like, I think I’ll define it as the place you feel safe, comfortable, at ease.  The place where you let out a little breath of relief once you walk through the door and take off your shoes.  The place you share with someone who, you know for certain, will be with you and for you wherever you go.

4 thoughts on “Home

  1. Dad told me, with tears in his eyes, that I should read this post. We’re so thankful that you and Galen have found your home, where ever it may be. We love you both so much!

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