Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On Being, "Almost Home"

When I chose the name for this little blog of mine, "Almost Home," there were a number of reasons I felt this phrase resonated with me.  The most obvious of course, being that my adult life has consisted of a series of moves, most of which I knew to expect.  There's a unique challenge inherent in knowing that you are going to move in x number of years from each home where you live.  Of course, that kind of foreknowledge can also help you make smart decisions (you hope) when it comes to where and how you live, but it still creates a unique dynamic.

The backyard of my parent's home back in the good 'ol Commonwealth.

As we prepare to move into this new home of ours out here in California (the farthest we've ever been from family!), I've found myself reflecting on how all of these different "homes" have felt for me.  I can honestly say that up until this point, each place where we have lived has truly become home.  I credit this to a gracious God who has dealt gently with me as we have moved from place to place over our 8 1/2 years of marriage.

Visiting with dear friends in one of our very favorite places (Charlottesville Va's Downtown Mall) just before we moved this past summer.

Our first year of marriage in Philadelphia was a really hard year for a lot of reasons.  Philly was tough for me, but we had a wonderful church, full of people I still think about with fondness.  I am convinced God provided for us through those friends and that church.  And because of that, it was home.

Halloween fun with friends in our loft apartment in Old City, Philadelphia.  

We lived in the guest cottage of my parent's house in my hometown of Lynchburg, VA for two years after that.  We had just made the decision for Philip to pursue dental school, and while the six years that that would entail seemed a bit daunting, we were energized (maybe slightly naive?) for the journey ahead.  We quickly made that little home our own, and it was a sweet time of being near my parents and my brother, Graham.  {Sitting in a coffee shop listening to instrumental music as I type this, I'm feeling a bit choked up at the thought of it all!}  It was a unique time too, as I was the one working {outside the home} every day.  I am so grateful for that season.  I really loved my job as a pharmaceutical sales representative.

A bit of Christmas cheer in the guest cottage we were so blessed to call home for two years :)
Next, we lived in Richmond VA, and even though we knew we'd be moving after four years, it really didn't feel like a temporary place.  We bought our first house there, Wade and Holland were both born there, and Richmond still feels the most like our adult home.  I feel great nostalgia for that time in our lives, and I miss it.  I sometimes wonder if we end up there again, would it be the same?

Hard at work on our first home in Richmond, VA!

Four years later, we celebrated Philip's graduation from dental school with dear friends.

We started out in Richmond newly pregnant for the first time.  Fast forward four years later and we were a family of four!

Leaving Richmond to follow where the Air Force was leading felt like a big step.  (Our six year plan through dental school had now become a total of 11, once Philip took a scholarship through the military...)  When we found out we were Illinois bound, it was a little intimidating to think of moving half way across the country to a place completely unknown to us.  But, we knew it was only a year, so how hard could that be?  Now, more than a year later, would you believe me if I told you I actually feel homesick for that little town in southwest Illinois?  Who would have guessed it would leave such an imprint on our hearts?  Let me assure you the year had its share of hard times, but I wouldn't trade it.  We quickly plugged into a wonderful church and built relationships with some really amazing people, and it was home.

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes as we settled into life in Illinois.  The look on my face should give you a sense of how I feel about the task in front of me.

This little dude, on the other hand, was quite pleased with what unpacking boxes meant for him!

My kitchen window in Illinois

So blessed to have sweet friends to miss when we left!
Now, we find ourselves out here on the west coast, and for the first time, I'm feeling weary from what has started to feel like a pretty nomadic existence.  This leads me to wonder why?  The house we bought is in a lovely little town, and we've already met countless new people who have been welcoming and kind.  We are so grateful for that.  Maybe my weariness has something to do with the fact that I'm about to have a third baby in less than two months (and I just miss familiar friends and family and the help they could provide!)?  Perhaps being so far away and living in a place that feels really different from all that is familiar is at the root of it?  Maybe its simply a product of knowing that we are kind of in the home stretch of this whole moving around business (at least as far as we can tell!), so my energy is waning?

Bedtime reading in our temporary house at Travis Air Force Base in CA.
I'm sure all of these factors are playing a part, but there's something else that's been different about this move:  we have been in a temporary house on the Air Force base for more than seven weeks, and while we have everything we truly need, it's really tough for a furnished place that lacks most of your own things to feel like home.  There's a part of me that wants to dismiss that thought--heck, I even have someone who will come by and make my bed and bring new towels every day if I like (#firstworldproblems).  Sometimes it seems just a bit foolish, superficial even, to grant so much weight to my material possessions.  Isn't it really all about the people with whom you're doing life?  Aren't my chairs and my picture frames and my dishes just a bunch of stuff?

Our bedroom in Illinois
Most of y'all know how much I like to decorate, how much a new paint color can make my heart sing.  I'm tempted from time to time to think I should focus my efforts more on things "that really matter," but I have to tell you, I'm feeling more and more convinced of the contrary.  Sure, my children and my husband are the foundation of what makes a place home, but the things we've acquired, or been given, or made-over with that new coat of paint, I think those things matter too.  If these seven weeks in a temporary home have taught me anything it's that my stuff reminds me of the story my family has woven as we've trekked around the country together.   Somehow it seems to help me plug along and engage with the next chapter of life.

Bookshelves filled with bits of our life

Our moving truck is set to deliver all of our stuff that's been sitting in storage for the past three months next Tuesday.  I'm expecting Monday night to feel a bit like Christmas Eve for me :)  I'm so excited to uncover all of the things that will hopefully help me feel like my story can continue out here in California and it too can begin to be home.