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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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