Do you have a dream home?

Seems like lots of people on Pinterest do.

This (sorta) Old Life: dream homes on Pinterest

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.

This (sorta) Old Life:  Alpine house

This was a nice home in many ways, but I never thought of it as my forever house.

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).

This (sorta) Old Life:  Portland Craftsman

Those eaves. That wrap-around porch. The windows. Dreamy, yes?

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.

Given my career choices, this home was more within reach than the big Craftsman--but I've still never lived in a home like this one.

This home was more within reach than the big Craftsman–but I’ve still never lived in a house like this one.

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: House exterior

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: House exterior

OK, so I still hit up the liquor store for some moving boxes. But the number of boxes and bags and stuff stunned me.

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: cemetery

(Don’t click away yet! Really, this isn’t a downer post. Promise.)

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: rumpled bed

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: painting stair railing

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: bedside table with awesomely awful lamp

I want to love this home we have today, right now, with every part of me.

This (sorta) Old Life: mantel with plants

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: closet

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: living room couch

This (sorta) Old Life: living room

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: jeans and Docs

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: backyard

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: sweet little house

We love little houses like this one.

Sometimes we imagine moving to the heart of the city and living in a little apartment in a fabulous old brick building.

This (sorta) Old Life: Portland apartment 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.

This (sorta) Old Life: Portland coffee shop

This coffee shop-in-a-church is in one of our favorite neighborhoods.

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: living room

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.

This (sorta) Old Life: upwords score card

Even this one.

This (sorta) Old Life: kitchen

And that, my friends, is pretty sweet.

Is it the same for you? How are you living your dreams right now?

(Giving credit where it’s due–I’m thankful for two writers who helped me find my way to these thoughts last week:  Ashley at The Handmade Home and Lindsey Mead at A Design So Vast.)