Do you have a dream home?
Seems like lots of people on Pinterest do.
I’m guessing that when it comes to dream homes, most of those pinners (and maybe you, too) are much like I have been for most of my life: Not pining away for some pie-in-the-sky “dream home,” but also knowing that the home I’ve got isn’t quite the one I really want.
I was OK with that. I figured I had lots of time to get to that place I’d really love, some day. Once some things changed, or I knew where I really wanted to live.
I passed nearly 20 years that way, years during which my children were born and their childhoods were lived. Now, they are nearly 15, and somehow it’s only recently that it’s hit me that I’m probably never going to renovate an old farmhouse or raise my kids in big, old Craftsman (two of my once-upon-a-time dreams).
It’s also hit me that questions of home have been much like questions of career for me. I just passed my 23rd year of working in education, and for nearly all of them I’ve felt that it wasn’t quite the thing for me. Like the homes I’ve lived in, it’s been OK. Much of it has been really good (which is why I’ve stayed).
But in the back of my mind, or that part of my mind that comes forward as I’m falling asleep at night, there lived the idea that somehow, some day, I’d figure out what my true thing was and that would become my real career–just like somehow, some day, I’d land in the place that was my real home.
When it comes to homes–dream or otherwise–here’s the reality for Cane and me: We’re here, in this home that’s pretty much like nothing either of us ever dreamed of, for at least 10 or so more years.
The strain and cost of moving to this home showed me in ways that my changing body and growing children somehow didn’t that I’m not in my 20s any more. Back then I changed residences only a little less often than I changed my sheets, and moving meant stopping by the liquor store to pick up some empty boxes that I would fill with my few belongings and cram into the back of my Toyota Corona.
For lots of reasons, it’s just not feasible for us to think about moving again until our kids are fully grown and launched; when that happens we’ll be in our 50s (and not our early 50s). I’ve been realizing–because some realizations, especially sorta hard ones, don’t come in a single moment–that if all goes well I’ve likely got only one more house left in my life, before I end up wherever I’ll end up at the end of my life. And it’s not going to be that farmhouse that needs renovating or that big old Craftsman.
Truth is, the farmhouses/Craftsmans are younger-people houses for younger-people dreams. Like so many truths that seem like they’ll only taste bitter going down, though, this one’s got some sweetness to it that I’d never have predicted.
Just as I accepted last fall that the career I’m working is my career–which allowed me to find to find new meaning in it–realizing that I no longer have an unlimited number of possible dream homes in my future is helping me find great peace and satisfaction with the house we’ve got.
See, this is the thing: Cane and I are living our dreams, right now, right where we are.
We are living them in our imperfect home, which will likely never be as as charming (or tidy) as we might like, no matter how hard we work at making it so.
I don’t want to waste any of our increasingly limited moments (because really, isn’t that what they are, for all of us?) wishing I were somewhere else. Even if only in the back of my mind.
I want to love this home we have today, right now, with every part of me.
I want to live life with my whole heart, without feeling that I am holding any part of it back for some someday in the future when we’ve got more (and better) counter space in our kitchen or better storage in our closets.
I don’t want to spend any of today’s minutes dreaming about a future when our house is finally what we want it to be, in which I have time to both keep it tidy and to spend an afternoon lost in a book on my perfectly comfortable (and good-looking) couch that is sitting right in the middle of a living room filled with my favorite things and with sun streaming through the windows and landing on my coffee table full of neatly arranged books.
Because in that future? Our kids will be grown up and launched. Our careers will be done. People we love now will be gone.
We are in the thick of our dreams right now, and I don’t want anything about our home to keep me from fully noticing and appreciating everything we have. Right now.
In that some day (if we are lucky), we will look back on these years, and it’s not going to matter that we lived them in a sorta boring old suburban split-level with horribly textured ceilings and no hardwood floors or gorgeous built-ins or picturesque tree houses perched into 100-year-old trees.
What’s going to matter is that we lived them fully, presently, with deep awareness of all that we have right now, today. We can’t do that if we spend too much time in a dream world.
Still, Cane and I do sometimes think about what that next house, our likely last house, will be.
We talk about wanting it to be small.
Sometimes we imagine moving to the heart of the city and living in a little apartment in a fabulous old brick building.
We like to walk around our favorite neighborhoods, taking pictures of beautiful houses and buildings, imagining what it might be like to live in them.
But lately, we wonder if we’re already in that last house.
As we talk about all the things we want to do to our home, we realize how much they would make us love it even more than we’ve already grown to. We think about the memories we’ve already made here, the last childhood home our children will probably know. And then we wonder how or if we’d really be able to leave it in 10 years.
We’re realizing that the thing about dream homes is that they are much more about the dreams–and the people we share them with– than the physical structure of the home. Which means that many, many houses could be our dream home.
Even this one.
And that, my friends, is pretty sweet.
Is it the same for you? How are you living your dreams right now?