While driving to my class in downtown Minneapolis, I passed a young woman riding a six-foot high blue bike. How’d she get up there? On a different day, I noticed another woman creating a large chalk drawing on an overpass sidewalk. How generous to put so much effort into something so temporary. Yesterday, I saw cyclist riding hands-free and joyfully playing the air drums. What song was he hearing in his head? I really like the lively energy of my neighborhood, but I don’t feel completely at home yet.
It’s hard to explain. My husband and I have been in our new smaller house for close to a year. The rooms are comfortable and attractive. The garden and yard are just the right size. I know where everything is, but something about it still feels like temporary housing. This is where I’m staying, but I don’t have a deep sense of home yet.
John felt at home here even before we moved. The house reminds him of his grandmother’s house and the first house he lived in, so it’s familiar. When he moved out on his own, he chose duplexes from the same era as our house. His collage of memories immediately made this place feel right.
What attracted me to the house were the kitchen’s old-fashioned flour bin and the tall narrow cupboards, like those in my grandmother’s kitchen. I think of Mimmie in her homemade apron, frosting banana cupcakes and teaching me how to doctor up mayonnaise for egg salad.
The house and I are still getting to know each other.
It’s more than seeing a home in all four seasons, though that’s part of it—how the living room dims by 4:30 on winter afternoons, how sunny the deck is before the trees leaf out in spring, how light fills our bedroom at 5:30 on summer mornings.
You also make a place yours by the repetition of ordinary activities: wiping the counters, passing dings in the wall as you run up the stairs, and walking around in the dark without bumping into things.
Carrying over traditions from the old house to the new one helps, too. We’ve celebrated Christmas, Easter, and several birthdays here. Even better are the impromptu gatherings when our sons drop by and we pull out several kinds of leftovers and beer—a feast!
When I realized that I still feel faintly unsettled, I decided a staycation would help—simply be here day in and day out for 11 days. So far, so good.
A friend, who grew up in a military family and moved every three years, says that every time she moved she was reminded that it takes a full year to fully feel at home. After 365 days have passed, something clicks and then it becomes your place.
I’m heartened by her wisdom and trust that, in time, I’ll be completely at home here.