I emptied the last box in the house today. That’s worth celebrating. There’s still the boxes in the garage to tackle, but today the house is clean and everything in all its 500 square feet has a place to belong. So I’ll say we’re moved in, make an iced coffee, and celebrate.
Since getting married a little over two years ago this is our fourth home that we’ve shared together. We started with a rental house that my father-in-law was fixing up to resell in Goodland, Kansas. Full of charm and extra space (we left three bedrooms completely unlived in) this house had the farmhouse feel and continues to be one of our ideal floor plans. (Though the location was less than ideal. Kansas has its own beauty but it is hard to notice when coming from Colorado.)
We then moved to a 650 square foot condo in Lakewood, Colorado while Tanner finished college. We never even looked inside before signing a twelve-month lease – confident that it would be workable. (Anything two-hundred dollars lower than comparable homes in the area seemed workable.) Thankfully, the blind contract worked well and we had a happy year – even though the massive bedroom made the living area cramped.
The next summer we moved to Buena Vista to accommodate Tanner’s first teaching job out of college. The small town was growing quickly and the housing market wasn’t quite keeping up – so we quickly signed a year lease on the only workable rental house in town. (Ok – there was one more option. It was a beautiful apartment right down town. Ideal location, right in our price range. The only down side was that it was above The Green Parrot – the sketchiest bar in town, fondly dubbed “The Dirty Bird” by locals. It also didn’t have locking doors. Tanner decided it might not be the best choice for his young wife.)
Though I loved having a real house to decorate and maintain and call our own, we really didn’t need three bedrooms and 6 acres at this point in life and were ready for smaller numbers – in regards to both square feet and rent check. Things fell beautifully into place and we have just moved right in the middle of town in a brand new apartment over the garage of the family I nanny for. “God provides” is our theme song.
I’ve loved each of these four moves. Not so much the boxing up and carrying stuff aspect – but for the opportunity to make home wherever I’ve found myself. But each home has had its set of quirks and un-ideal situations, and with each move I feel like my list making up my “dream home” has become longer and more detailed. Cozy, but spacious. Storage space, but not too big. A house with a garage and but no yard to maintain. Private, but in town. The list grows longer and more unrealistic. Almost immediately into one home I find myself thinking about what I’ll look for in our next house.
But with this last move I feel more compelled to make this house work. Maybe it is because we’ll never find a better deal with sweeter neighbors (seriously, how cute is it to have the little ones I nanny for drop by to say hello and share a banana?), maybe its because the move was long, hard, and draining, or maybe it is because this really is a perfect set up for us. Or maybe I’m learning that this ideal dream home in my brain isn’t something that is found but rather something that is made. And maybe the dream home isn’t made out of pinterest worthy decorations or the perfect Pottery Barn furniture – but maybe it is made out of people and the life they live in the house. Maybe I’ve had this dream home all along.
This house isn’t perfect. I don’t have a washer and dryer, we occasionally knock our heads on the slanted ceilings, there’s not a lot of natural lighting, and I still have the daunting amount of things to find space for while our landlord’s boat graciously waits outside for us to make room for it again. But when the morning alarm goes off (and I can smell the coffee brewing from my bed) we get up and start our days together here. Scripture is opened on our couch, our meals are eaten here in this kitchen, piano students practice at the piano in the corner, and when the day is over and we go home, this is where we come. Our dreams are made, and talked about, and lived out here – so doesn’t that make it a dream house?
“Much of the beauty that arises in our homes comes from the struggle we wage with our limited resources. The thing is if you spend all your time over the fact that you live in your parents’ basement or in an ugly rental or a house with no windows, you won’t have any energy left to create a home right where you are. So don’t cheat on your current house by dreaming of the life you’ll have with your next house.” –Myquillyn Smith
I could keep hoping for the day that we can buy or build our own house and make it into the perfect home that fits every item on the unrealistic list in my head – but the reality is, it probably won’t ever happen, and I will miss what I have now. I would rather lean into contentment and call this my dream home.