What is in a home?

In the last ten years, I have changed my address more than 8 times. I know a little bit about moving house but it never gets easier, and each time is a totally new experience.

My family recently moved house. With a three month old in tow, we packed up our belongings, hopped in the car and unpacked our belongings somewhere new. This time was special; we weren’t moving from rental to rental. We moved from rental to mortgage. Moving this time held a sense of, if not finality, at least permanency. This feeling of permanency prompted reflection in a way I’ve never given the time to before.

On moving day, the house was empty as you would expect. The walls were bare, the rooms seemed more spacious and yet less spacious at the same time. This house had homed us for over a year, our child had experienced home for the first time in those walls, and those walls experienced several of our child’s firsts. His first smile, his first giggle, his first projectile vomit, and pee on the carpet. (some firsts do seem more significant than others, it seems).

As we left that house on moving day, it was hard to imagine what life would look like in the walls of somewhere new. A new routine, a new normal.

Houses, when stripped down to their raw materials, when moved in and out of constantly, are really nothing but husks. Essential husks, yes, for our living and thriving in this society, but only husks all the same. They are entered, exited, and entered again. Countless memories are made, relationships forged, and identities discovered within those walls. It is the forging of relationship, the making of memories, and the discovery of identities that make those walls a home; and homes are hard to leave.

But as with all moving days, we left one husk for another.

Far too many belongings in boxes, dragged from place to place, found their way into a new husk. How long would it take for this husk to feel like home? Surprisingly, not long at all.

By the time we returned to our old home to clean, the husk of many firsts for our baby, it felt beyond empty. Walking through the room where we spent most of our family time, where we shared meals and played card games with friends, I got the feeling that this husk was truly empty now. I questioned subconsciously whether we had ever lived here, I wondered what life was like before we moved. Our new walls had suddenly, abruptly, taken on much more value than I had expected.

Houses…more than an essential roof over ones head in our society. More than the security of knowing where we rest for the night. Houses are always home to someone. Empty walls tell a million stories, contain countless memories, and store equally as many secrets. The husks of our lives and the places of rest for our spirits.

I am glad to feel a sense of permanence in this move. We are privileged to have that confidence. I am glad to not be saving boxes for our next move, and to feel that it’s okay to stretch out roots around this new husk, that already feels like home.

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