What Is Home?

I purchased my first house at twenty-six years old.  It was over a hundred years old with creaky floors, peeling paint, a crooked porch, and a dirt basement. The lot was tiny but I planted as much as I could. I harvested tomatoes and cucumbers, one meal’s worth of corn on the cob and tons of green beans. I took care of a peach tree out back in a vacant lot between my house and the insurance company.  I am sure someone planted it there but it was long since forgotten and sad.

1996: Peeling paint, crooked porch and the little garden that could.

I hosted dinners, kids birthdays, dance parties, and cookouts. It was just a short walk to the hardware store, schools, and our favorite pizza place. I was incredibly proud of this home and thought I might be there forever. Renovations finished and that thought sunk in. I became a little bit terrified after a while. I found myself constantly looking at real estate online and in magazines. I gradually became obsessed with the process of discovering my next home base. I knew in my heart I didn’t belong in that little Massachusetts town for the rest of my life. I had already been there since I was born and it was feeling a little like I was trapped.

Life around me began to unravel and my nine-year relationship dissolved. In most cases, you would think to approach a teenager and tell her you were moving from the only home we had ever known to a new city she would through a total fit. Remind you of her gigantic life and how you were ruining every bit of it. Not my girl. She said (and I think these were her exact words) “I am ready to move on and have a new adventure.” What a relief for any mother. I was so lucky to have an independent daughter ready to expand her horizons and start fresh. I believe that the major shifts that happen in our life are the very things that help us grow and thrive and that’s just what we did.

We migrated north to the New Hampshire seacoast. Both of us were drawn to the ocean and felt cleansed every time we left the front steps of our new home taking a deep breath of salty air. Who knew this would be where we both found out a bit more of who we were and prepared us for our next chapters. We lived in 1,000 square feet about a 20-minute drive from our favorite beaches. We picked a sea glass kind of palette and filled our house with hand-painted art, homemade curtains and second-hand furniture.

2007: Modeling her high school prom dress in front of our side garden in NH.

My daughter painted a huge, henna-like mural on a wall in her bedroom and left her TV on 24/7. We enrolled her in city high school and she used those last two years to get ready for college. As years past I found places to plant alongside the house. I grew eggplant, zucchini, and huge heirloom tomatoes. I weeded around the foundation, added some flowers, and lopped off dead branches from neglected trees and bushes. It was a lot for these small town girls but we took it all in stride. Along with the hiccups came the triumphs like finding our new favorite pizza joint just steps from our back door.

She graduated from college, I learned to surf. She moved to Virginia for a job, I sang in a band. She started a new life and I dreamed of my next move. I started to realize that I was lonely and feeling empty even with a full life of friends. I noticed my desire for a home with a yard, a big garden, and space between neighbors was growing. I also knew that I would never find my true companion there on that seacoast. It didn’t fit. It wasn’t home.

I was craving all things green and natural.  I was ready to let go of my seacoast life and try another new place. All of a sudden fifty miles away from that little Massachusetts town I got a message from an old neighbor. When we were kids he lived a couple of streets away. He left town in his early twenties. He too felt like that little town was not home anymore. He was looking for more. His life unhinged around the same time mine did. He was embracing life as a single father and working to fix up his house.

2016: Visiting a school we attended back in the day

We connected online, started video calls to get to know each other again. He came to visit me in New Hampshire.  It all happened so fast but felt so good and then… I moved to the Green Mountain National Forest.  I had nothing to lose and tons to gain.

It is beautiful here. We grow about 45% or our year’s vegetables and the garden gets bigger every year. House renovations are happening a little at a time. We created a calm, peaceful and private home for us and his daughters. We have a tiny guest house for summer stay overs. In the winter he skis, I cook comfort food. I bake bread, he splits wood. I design a new bathroom, he swings his hammer. We dream about our future as we age together and couldn’t be happier.

2018: My love in our garden in Vermont.

My girl is living her best life out west. I visit her, she visits me. I was lucky enough last week to go out and help her move into a new rental and we did some things to make her feel home. Nesting is our thing.

What are things that make my home no matter where I am?

  1. Plant something. Anything. Preferably something you can eat. Herbs in a pot or a single tomato plant that you care for like it’s your child. Getting your hands in the dirt is a way to ground your energy.
  2. Make a bedroom sanctuary. Even if the rest of the house is chaotic always fix up your bedroom first so as your projects take over your life you still have a perfect place to lay your head. New bed linens, a place to sit, and a great pillow.
  3. A functional kitchen. Even if the house is in need of repair you can always visualize that kitchen flow. Being organized in the kitchen makes for better meal preparation and you won’t reach for snacky foods that will drag down your energy. I am finding an Instant Pot is a powerful tool to decrease stress in the kitchen.

Just Bee….. xo Melissa Dee

*This post is dedicated to my dear friend who recently asked what I thought makes a home.

© Melissa Dee Phipps and Melissadee.com, 2018 – Indefinitely. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melissa Dee Phipps and Melissadee.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



3 Replies to “What Is Home?”

  1. Home is where the heart is. After growing up as a “military brat” I yearned for a place to call home. Moving every two years didn’t inspire my mother to plant flowers and gardens as we were always being “uprooted”. As I got older, I envisioned “home” as a place to establish roots, plant gardens, raise kids and grow everlasting friendships. I have found that here in the Green Mountains and am proud to say that Melissadee is part of what I call “home”. Her posts are both inspiring and thought-provoking and her friendship deep-rooted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love all of your garden references. You are the reason I wrote this post and I am so lucky you welcomed me and are one of the people that has made me feel at home here. Can’t wait to dig in the dirt with you this spring. Thank you so much for this incredibly thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Home was boring as a child and even moreso into young adulthood. I grew up in an old farmhouse in rural Vermont which felt like a trap for a few years. After I escaped the boonies and headed for a spectacular life I began to see just how important that place that raised me was and how fortunate I was to have had the childhood I had. I have moved numerous times since leaving that old farmhouse with a few residences feeling homey and a handful feeling less than. My parents still live on the same property that sprouted, grew and nurtured me. The landline still rings, though rarely. I could drive the route home half blindfolded and at the end of that venture some of my favorite humans remain as perfectly boring as ever! ♡ I love this post. Love your friendship with Pam and love youuu!


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