For the first nine months of our marriage we lived in three different homes.
Two of those homes belonged to other people, and one of them was a house that we got to rent for three months. In that last home we had more space than resources meaning that we had to try to furnish the home on a measly $500 IKEA budget. We found ways to make room for guests and found pumpkins and pinecones to decorate for the fall season.
By the time we got to Manila, we wanted to create our home. We had Pinterest boards of decorating styles and followed Philippine designers on Instagram for inspiration. Once we found our condo (after just three days of being in country!), we celebrated the blank canvas of a space with which we were finally able to dream and be creative.
We took our time, making our decisions carefully and spending our money wisely. We fought about rug options and debated the meaning behind abstract paintings we found at the market. We celebrated being gifted a large table from friends who were downsizing, and we imagined the many people who would gather around it.
Many people did gather around that table! In our two years spent on the 29th floor of that building in central Manila, we hosted pizza parties, and pasta parties and cooked stew and adobo and heaps and heaps of garlic rice for breakfast (even though it’s not Trent’s favorite smell to wake up to). We set up our Christmas tree twice and burned fall scented candles we’d brought from the land where seasons broke up the year into quarters.
We had gatherings that made us wash the dishes twice and eat in shifts so that everyone could get a clean plate. We had sleepovers and YouTube watching nights, and laughter and tears and quiet days when it was just us and our pug, Gordon, and we didn’t tell anyone we were at home.
Six months ago we sold all of our furniture to our landlord (what a gift to get to keep it all together!) and sold or gave away pieces of our memories to friends and neighbors. Another transition had come and we were, once again, without a home to create in, celebrate in, and be quiet in. Again, we were launching into a season of being blessed by our friends and family, traveling between them and living out of our suitcases.
We've started new Pinterest boards and are gaining inspiration from a different part of the world now. My board is called “Turkish Delight” as I gather images of Turkish rugs and simple colors and striking lamps. I’m falling in love, while not trying to get too attached.
This time we know the things coming are good and tangible and not outside of our reach. We know to soak in these days of friends and family and familiar foods and language because later comes a whole new rhythm to life. We’ll miss our communities as we develop a new one and we’ll tire easily from simple daily stressors.
As we remember what we loved the most about having our own space and that settled feeling of stability and having those suitcases permanently empty (or used for storage) sitting under the bed, there are a few things that come into focus the clearest. These are things that we talk about between each other with eagerness and longing, anticipating the delight that is to come.
We love hosting friends. We love creating a big meal and setting the table and having fresh flowers and playing some jazz music (or, more recently, Christmas music). I think that loving to host also makes me more aware and grateful of those who host us. We know the work that goes into it and we know the adventure of opening up your home. We’re so thankful that we get to be receivers in this season and are already dreaming of creating our own “soup nights” to open up our own home as we make new friends.
This is one “home” feeling that I can have a variation of wherever we go. As I type, we’re on the Amtrak train somewhere in Oregon, heading north toward Seattle. There’s a pine scented candle in my suitcase that burned all through Christmas week and will continue to illuminate our dark evenings and dim mornings. I’m excited to expand my candlestick collection ("expand" meaning: start a collection) and start decorating our own space with simple, white candles that add light and coziness to our new space.
A lot of our travel brings us away from our pug, Gordon. He stays with family or friends in the meantime and he gets stressed by not being with his “pack.” When I get stressed, I just want to cuddle with the little guy. I’m excited to be in a place where he’s with us again in our own space. We let him jump on the couch and follow us around as we cook in the kitchen. We’ll introduce him to the place, with new smells and animals and walking paths and we’ll get to help each other feel a little more at home. (Home is where your dog is, right?)
It’s so simple that it feels almost silly: I’m looking forward to consistent rhythms. I’m looking forward to doing laundry and hanging it out to dry. I’m excited to discover our favorite shops for fruit and meat and cheese. I dream about what my morning quiet time place will be like (of course, there will be a candle or two). I’ll sweep the floor daily because Gordon sheds his black fur all over and I may leave some dishes in the sink on the nights that friends stay until bedtime.
Recently, our seasons have been marked by airplanes rides, rather than falling leaves or snow. Our “kitchen junk drawer” has been a pocket in my backpack. Our date nights have been in different cities around the globe and we cherish every new experience. And while we celebrate, we also long and anticipate the upcoming transition back to stability. We hope with eagerness and vibrant Pinterest boards.