Home, Temporary Home
I have a love/hate relationship with my house. For awhile now I’ve leaned more in the direction of hate. When I first moved here, I was reacting strongly against my 10 year experience of living in a church manse that sat literally in the back door of the church. Distance and privacy – those were my dreams. And that’s what I got when I chose this particular rental house some 15 or so miles from my new church.
There are things that I didn’t realize when I first moved here. For example, 15 miles in the Upstate is not the same as 15 miles in Charleston. In the Upstate, they can be driven in the blink of an eye. Here the commute is at best 25 minutes and at its worst (to date), 1 hour and 20 minutes.
The Charleston area public school system leaves much to be desired. That much I knew when I came here. It’s another reason why I chose to not live too close to my church. The schools in that immediate area are horrible. Here, a little better. Our neighborhood school is convenient – less than a mile from the house. It offers a reasonably good after school care program. My children enjoy it. But when it comes to getting involved at the school, I’ve been completely shut out. I guess I was spoiled by the PTO at the elementary school in our former town. That was where I met many of my outside-of-church friends. There were always opportunities to get involved. The teachers were open to parental involvement. Here I go to PTO meetings and no one even speaks. Literally. I have been to meetings and school programs where not a single parent, teacher, or PTO officer even acknowledged my presence. (It’s makes me hyper-aware of how we treat visitors to our church, coincidentally.)
The house itself is just ok. Cheaply built. Cheap rental carpet that frays if you look at it too hard. Half-assed paint job. Always cold and drafty downstairs. My bedroom is the room that is the warmest room – or stuffiest, depending on the season. The finished room over the garage looked like it would be perfect as an extra bedroom/writing room/craft room, but it is so poorly insulated that it’s always hot in the summer and always cold in the winter. It serves instead as a glorified storage/junk room and home to the old lady hermit cat who hates the dog and would prefer to spend time alone.
We don’t really know many of our neighbors. Quite frankly, we aren’t home enough to get to know them. One of them has a car alarm that goes off with annoying frequency, but other than that I don’t have any real complaints. I just don’t know them.
The house has always felt like a temporary stop to somewhere else. Where exactly, I’m not sure. Because it feels so temporary, I haven’t tried to decorate or make it truly ours. Maybe that was a mistake, because it perpetrates the feeling that home isn’t really home.
I have found one spot here that I do really like. Upstairs in my bedroom, tucked in a narrow space between my bed and the window, is my mommy rocking chair. I’ve discovered that the morning sun pours in on this chair. Actually the cats discovered it and I stole the spot from them. Because my room is upstairs, I have a good vantage point to look out and observe the comings and goings down below. The house across the street has a bamboo wind chime that makes comforting sounds when the breeze blows. It makes a great place for reading or writing or sitting to think and pray. It’s my one spot that feels like home.
I know that one way or the other I will need to make a move soon – probably this summer, after the kids finish up this school year. It will be a challenge to find a place that is closer to the church that still has good schools. I crave a place that will be home and not just a temporary stop. I want a place where I hang pictures and choose paint colors and care about window treatments. I want a place where I am comfortable in my children’s school and where I know my neighbors. I want a place closer to work so that I have time to do more than just throw a load of clothes in the wash, throw together a quick meal, and sleep before running out the door again.
Wherever that place is and whenever I manage to find it, I hope there is a window that catches the warm morning sun where I can put my mommy rocking chair to read or write, think or pray.