Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to build a home

Moving is hard. On any list of life stressors, it's right up there with marriage, death and taxes. Having recently moved, I'd argue that not only is the move hard, the rebuilding is hard and is a separate task unto itself.

In early January, my sweetheart and I moved from Boston to Kansas City. I've written about it elsewhere in this blog, so I won't rehash it here. For the last two weeks we've been unpacking and settling into our new home, working together to build a place that is comfortable and comforting.

Building a home, simply unpacking and settling in, is hard work so I've been thinking about what constitutes home. It's pretty complex. Home ranges from the personal (the space I live in, the layout, design, meaning of stuff) to the communal (the community within which I live, my neighborhood, my social networks, my work) to the geographic (the neighborhood, city, country, language, weather) and undoubtedly other factors I'm forgetting. Building a home requires manipulating those factors you can control and gaining an understanding of those you cannot.

For the last few weeks, Kevin and I have been working on the personal (the easiest to control) unpacking, choosing where pictures go, what we will see when we walk in the house, what do we need to adjust to be more comfortable. What we value is revealed by what we choose to focus on. I unpacked the kitchen and books, he worked on technology. We set up our bedroom together first, so we could nest, then the office, so we'd each have a place to work. It was the easiest and most effective way we could care for ourselves and each other. There's still a lot of personal homebuilding to go, but we're on our way. The personal act of homebuilding seems to be dogged determination as much as anything. Keep unpacking. Keep deciding. Keep working until it's done.

The communal homebuilding is slower and harder to control. We were lucky, in that we have a friend in town, the wonderful storyteller Priscilla Howe. She's made sure we know where the good stuff is, has comforted and listened to us. We're working on building community through work and play and neighbors. It takes time to build community and relationships; I have no doubt we will. I don't feel a need to rush it, I'd rather let the heart move at its own pace.

The geographic is the hardest to impact and build, though brings offers unexpected and necessary  comforts. We picked a great neighborhood in a cool city. While we speak the same language our ears are still tuning to the regional accent. And this morning, the weather gave me a gift that helps me feel at home, far more than I expected.

I woke up to a rainstorm. I love the rain. Hearing the rain this morning removed me from my anxiety about new place, new home, more work to do. All I had to do was listen and I remembered the home I carry inside of me.

And this is what I really wanted to say. Homebuilding is a complex and ongoing act. Our homes are both external and internal - the places we live and the internal life. As long as we retain a link to our internal homes, the key parts of ourselves that help us understand who we are, the external homebuilding becomes easier. We just have to remember to be willing to notice.

Of course, the picture goes there. Yes, community will emerge. And look, the rain finds me within myself, again and again and again.

(c)2013 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. And sometimes finding the inner home is the hardest to do!

  2. I'm glad you're here, glad you're figuring out how to make KC home. I've been working at doing this for the past two years and it helps to have a couple of kindred spirits in you and Kevin.

    And yes, rain! The song has been running through my head all morning: "Rain, rain, rain, rain, beautiful rain!"

  3. I can't wait to hear what happens when KC discovers YOU! They have no idea what a treat they're in for.

  4. Interesting thoughts on what makes a home. Got me thinking about what I would write down for "Define Home" on the essay test of life. Glad to hear you're settling down, revving up and taking a spin around your new home town. Hug each other from us. Tony and KR

  5. Laura, Thank you for such a thoughtful piece on home; the ongoing process resonates with me...things are always changing; inside as well as out but as long as we are true to ourselves the rest follows.It's still hard work but not a struggle.
    I want to wish you happy moving adventures as well as congratulations...I was out of town during your farewell party. I had the pleasure of being your student at Brookline Adult Ed as well as at an unforgettable coaching session. Thank you!! Take care. Jane


True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.truestorieshonestlies.blogspot.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.laurapacker.com.
Related Posts with Thumbnails