Almost twelve years ago to the day, my wife and I moved into our first house – a traditional, side-hall colonial from the mid 1920’s. While beginning your career or solidifying your relationship with the exchange of vows certainly qualifies as being a full-fledged adult, I feel that buying your first home is tops on the list.
Beyond the financial burden, it’s a huge personal responsibility that really doesn’t come with a foolproof handbook, no matter what the experts might say. You learn as you go – from the mistakes and the successes – allowing you the esteemed title of “homeowner” that so many of us take pride in.
I remember my wife and I practically LIVED on Chips Ahoy sandwich cookies with Oreo cream inside for the first few weeks. While we had food in the house, it was a quick way of grabbing some nourishment (okay, not really much nourishment) in between repairing cracks and holes, ripping up carpets and painting ceilings and walls. I wish we kept track of how many packages we went through in our first month here, but I’d venture to say we may have been the only people buying them – they were cancelled not long after.
Fast forward twelve years later and this is our last week in what has surprisingly become our “starter home”. We had every intention of remaining here for the duration of our lives, but if there’s one thing you can definitively count on in life its change.
And so here we are, a week to the very day before we board a plane bound for Colorado and a new chapter in our already full lives. I came across this quote the other day and though it was not only timely but utterly accurate for how I’m feeling right now.
“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
― Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye
Today, while meandering through a local retailer, I came across an end cap which was stacked with cookies – Chips Ahoy cookies to be exact. As I got a little closer I had a huge grin on my face – like a little kid who just eyed his next favorite treat. But my appetite had nothing to do with my delight. You see Chips Ahoy just released a new cookie – a chocolate chip filled with Oreo cream. I’d be lying if this sentimental sap didn’t find himself with a little tear in the corner of his eye.
Pretty much the same cookies we found ourselves addicted to almost twelve years ago to the day, I now randomly stumbled upon in a store I rarely if ever frequent. While some might consider this reality slightly pathetic, it cemented for me something I guess I’ve always known.
Like Dessen says, home “was wherever the people who loved you were.” All the wonderful memories of that first month in our first home had more to do with the person I was sharing them with than the house itself. We were creating “a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life” and I was reminded of that fact by something as simple as a $3 package of cookies.
I bought that pack of cookies and truthfully could care less if I ever eat them. I just can’t wait to see the look on my wife’s face when I give them to her because I have no doubt she’ll be thinking the same things I was.
Stephanie Perkins writes in her book Anna and the French Kiss, “For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we are finally home.”
No matter where I go, as long as my wife and I are always together, it will always feel like home.