Monday, September 20, 2010

Home again, home again

We're back in Cincinnati, from a trip to NC: job hunting, football game, and time with the grandparents. We're saying our prayers for the job; the game was good (though Cincinnati lost); and time with the grandparents is always fun.

Of course, returning home from home makes me think about how we think about homes.

This was our first trip to NC since December 2009, and the time away has given us some perspective. We arrived home to our house last night with a sigh of relief. The 8-hour drive was lengthened by an hour sitting in stopped traffic, and we were so relieved to be in our own space again. The boys played with toys they had forgotten they had. We made some omelets for a quick dinner. We went outside as it was darkening for those last few minutes of play time.

What makes home home? Familiarity and comfort, and they often go hand in hand. Safety. Family. Here in our little house on the corner, I have a laundry list of improvements to make it homier. The list remains untackled for two reasons: (1) start-up money, and (2) fear of commitment. After more than three years here, I'm still having a hard time calling this "home" emphatically enough to invest in some serious housewarming projects, like painting rooms, framing art, sewing curtains, and--gulp--installing that fence I so desperately want.

As I think about moving to NC, hoping that we'll be able to live closer to my family, I have conflicting thoughts. Shouldn't I be able to make anywhere "home"? On the other hand, what is it about the area I grew up in, apart from my family's proximity, that makes it feel like home? I can't articulate why it feels comfortable, but it's an unmistakable feeling. Is it landscape, weather, deeply imprinted memories, or "a certain slant of light"?

I likely won't figure that one out soon. What I do know is that my boys need outdoor space. The hands-down best part of visiting grandparents is their outdoor kingdoms. Both sets of grandparents are blessed with a world of outdoors for our boys. Though our own yard is modest, we can long for that delicious free roam at the grandparents'.

This weekend the boys sat on tractors, had tractor rides, played in the hammock, dug dirt in the yard, walked and biked 'round the yard, took stroller rides, collected acorns, and ate most meals outside on the deck. Don't fence them in! (Oh, but a fence might be nice!)

Homes should give us room to grow, I think. And while I know we're truly blessed to have a safe, spacious, comfortable home here, I think we could do with less space inside and more outside, because boys grow best when they get that sunlight and fresh air. It seems to make their smiles brighter.