There’s a rich pulse to steady root building. We sow time and shared experiences into people and they yield trust back to us. Nearly four anniversaries of 50 or so church services a year trickles into family. And four years of marriage built the foundation of my home.
In the midst of packing and purging, and the emotions of letting possessions go, I have found a cleaner sense of myself. Decorating and sorting, packing and rummaging have never been strengths of mine. I would far rather jet off after work to walk downtown, cook a fancy dinner, read a good book or watch a great show. But this sifting process… this shifting of things… it all made me realize how much these possessions I gather and what I hold on to or deem that “I deserve” have defined me. And I don’t want to go to my grave leaving behind a house full of stuff that I could never seem to tear myself away from.
Philosophical enlightenment tangles with memories. Nikki and I painted that red kitchen wall together – we mixed two cans of half-full paints, so there’s no way I could ever replicate that color again. Chad carefully laid down our wood flooring by hand-picking out the most beautiful patterns and making sure they were in the center of the room for all eyes to see. We crammed dozens of people in for dinner parties, tried out recipes and shuffled around clutter in these rooms. We sang worship at the top of our lungs, we grieved over life, and we danced lots of jigs.
At this moment, as I sit in the living room in my nearly bare house, I am having a hard time separating the physical place from the richness of life. Matt loved to build fires in the winter, even though we couldn’t even feel the heat from the flames. On one such night we brought home our tiny little dachshund puppy and huddled with her in the living room as she attempted to figure our her new surroundings. Grandma Z gave us “Phil,” our eternally-living houseplant that refuses to die no matter how many weeks I forget to water him. And when we water him, we have to lean across the upstairs railing with a tube from our vacuum and pour a bottle of water down it. Leana planted not one but two lilac bushes after I killed the first one. I tried two summers of gardening. I battled squirrels over my tree-ripening plumbs.
Once a week last fall we filled the room with babies and baby toys, as many of my friends and I played with our new little babes and tried to carry on a conversation at the same time. I sat and blankly stared at the living room walls, sleep deprived, and nursing yet again my sweet little baby girl. I’ve fought loneliness and strengthened my identity. I’ve begun to learn what it means to build a family, to give and take and rely and to bare my soul. And honestly, this is the first time I’ve really been in charge of my own domain (dorm rooms don’t really count).
So sweet house, our “Oldely”, thank you for your safety. Thank you for giving our hearts and home a beautiful foundation to flourish.