Many seem to be so sick of their homes at the moment. Being stuck in a place for weeks on end will do that to a person. Maybe for some people, the places they live are less homes and more houses, because they spend as little time there as their schedule will allow. But schedules have been emptied now, and many are blinking at the four walls they live in and seeing what is only noticed when the mad rush of life is put on pause. Maybe for others, its not a dislike for their home but an itch to see other places that has them feeling restless and frustrated.
I think I have been more of the latter. I’ve not gotten sick of my home, I love it actually, but I have grown blind to its beauty sometimes. I have gotten sick of not being able to visit other places. I scroll on my phone and see photos of people who live in Oxford and Santorini and Verona, and jealously hops on the couch beside me in less than a blink.
“You’re stuck in an ordinary place, and there are people out there serving their isolation sentence in gorgeous and exotic places.” It says bitterly in a tone that looks at my messy hair and wintery skin condescendingly.
I start to wish I was there, that I was them, and as each day passes my frustration increases despite the fact that there is nothing to be done and there’s nothing really concrete to direct that frustration toward. Quite the dramatic thought spiral really, but there I am.
I forget, again, to look around at where my feet are right now instead of at the highlight real. To notice how wonderful my current situation is. How does this happen? How do I become so blind to what is right in front of me?
I decide on an experiment. Instead of wishing I was traveling around the world, I should try to imagine my home as a destination. If my home was being advertised on AirBnB, what could it say to make me want to stay there? I invent a description to sell it to myself.
It’s a mountain retreat, with a gravel driveway that’s long but not steep. There are two sets of sliding glass doors in the kitchen that let you see soft, green hills and a creek that you can hear trickling quietly if you step closer. It’s foggy in the mornings, and the back porch is the perfect spot to watch it roll away as the sun introduces itself once again. The rocking chairs don’t squeak and rain clings to the screen on grey afternoons. On sunny ones you can slide those doors open and let spring air tumble through the whole house.
It looks lived in, like a large family sits down at the dining table for meals on a regular basis. Some of the chair cushions are missing their ties. There’s a splotch of pancake syrup that hasn’t been scrubbed away from the counter beneath the microwave. A golden retriever has left nose prints on the sliding door that faces the distant cow pasture. The dryer is temporarily broken, so jeans and socks are hanging near the window.
There are thick blankets draped over the backs of the couches and paper flowers in a vase on the table. Several pairs of shoes line the side of the stairs, waiting to be carried up to the right closets. Real plants are growing in vases full of water on either side of the fireplace. They crawl downward with leaves in different shades of yellow and green. There is an entire cabinet above the coffee machine full of mugs in varying sizes, some more clearly used than others, and the drawer below is full of teas.
I would create an entire Pinterest board swooning over a place like this. A home nestled in a little mountain valley. So what would I do if I “travelled” here? Wouldn’t it be all the things that I’m always claiming I will do when I “get more time”?
I’d take my mornings slow and drink my coffee on the porch as the fog rolled away. I’d make fruit smoothies and cinnamon cake and listen to the dishwasher sloshing in the afternoon. I’d follow a sunny spot on the porch (much like a cat does) and sprawl out with my notebooks and pens and the side of my right pinky would get dark with ink as the hours went by. I would wedge myself into the corner of the soft brown couch upstairs that’s shaped like a giant L and watch Some Good News with John Krasinski. Or maybe I’d start a Hunger Games marathon since my sister just finished reading the books for the first time.
I’d listen to one of my favorite authors read aloud his novels on YouTube in the evenings as I put a puzzle together on the wooden table behind the couch. It’s a lot of old VW Beetles. I like it. I’d read and read and read, about magical creatures, about healthy minds and healthy hearts, about wordworkers that can unlock doors by writing the door unlocks on a sheet of paper, about a barber in a small town, and about what it would be like if we acted like we believed every Word that God says is Truth.
The reading would make me want to write more. I’d write about faraway castles and dragons that wait inside them, about Old Places that are found rather than made, about ancient beings that kneel before the wonder in a kind child’s eyes. I’d try to explain what the silence of snow reminds me of and feel like I didn’t pick the right metaphor. Everything is in the metaphors.
I’d get frustrated that the words don’t come out easily, and I’d go walking for almost a mile to get the mail on the driveway/road that runs parallel to the river. Sometimes my head needs the metaphors and my shoes need dirt.
I’d listen to an album from start to finish (because it’s been years and that will forever be the best way to go about listening to records), and I’d read all the lyrics to each song as they played. I’d get out paints from a drawer long forgotten and start out using brushes and eventually use my fingers. I’d put seeds in pots on the windowsill and eagerly wait for the little green shoots to break the surface. I’d smile with proud satisfaction at the patterns the vacuum leaves on the carpet, and I’d wipe away dust on every surface I can reach until the whole house smells like lemons.
I remember that I’ve wanted to do many of these things for a long, long time.
Yes, I do love it here, and I wouldn’t trade it. It is such a sanctuary, where peace is given plenty of space to sprout and grow, despite the panic running rampant across the globe right now.
I still want to go places. The nearest coffee shop in town for starters. But there is much that can be done here. Seen here. Appreciated here. Savored here. Loved here. There are words that need to be wrung out like rain (in lots of glorious sentence fragments), and it has been a sweet time to focus on that process in a place that still takes my breath away on a regular basis. Not because it is exotic or instagrammable, but because it is steeped in tangible good that works wonders when I take the time to notice. Things I had forgotten I needed, that are just as necessary as going places and getting “out and about” things done.
There have been movie nights that needed to happen, since they had been pushed aside before, with a wide arrangement of snacks and hot drinks and bickering with siblings over what to watch. There have been late nights that turned into the quiet hours of morning spent reading the last pages of books so good that I just couldn’t go to sleep yet. That needed to happen, because even that, the littlest of joys, is often lost in busy weeks when I have fallen into bed too exhausted to do anything and gotten up early to repeat the process all over again.
“Be where your feet are” is some solid advice in Hannah Brencher’s book Come Matter Here that I reread recently. It has yet to steer me wrong. There is plenty of good to be done in my four walls. This type of good might not be measurable on a calendar. It might be the type that is just good for the soul. If I spend all day in a rocking chair on the porch or scribbling at my kitchen table, my calendar might not justify that, but the attitude of my heart and mind just might speak for itself.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” The words are thick and scripting over the archway to the kitchen.
I do see now. I’m learning to let the seeing get inside. To taste the goodness and let it satisfy.
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