Being free and being home

It’s a quiet morning around here.

For reading and writing, spooning yogurt with fruit and sipping coffee. For savoring gentle morning sunshine and wandering barefoot around the house.


I recently moved across the country — from Berkeley to Boston — and things are finally getting unpacked and set up. Doesn’t that process always seem to take centuries? But, at last!, the number of boxes is dwindling!

It’s been strange to see all my stuff again.

I moved out of my parents house at 18 when I went to college. Since then, I’ve lived in 3 dorms, 5 apartments, and 2 houses. I spent a few months staying in a staff house while I was a trail guide and a few months living in an author’s house (along with her dog, Sir Barks-a-Lot) while she was on Sabbatical. I also spent a significant amount of time traveling and staying with friends & family.

When I list my previous residences for background checks or lease applications, there are enormous multi-month gaps where I was living in my car or tent more than I was renting.

Needless to say, I haven’t been able to keep a lot of material possessions with me. They’ve spent most of the time in storage bins or my parents’ basement.

But now, they’re here. My car, my backpack, my piano, my books, my clothes, my wicker mirror, my childhood journals, my bicycle, my houseplants… they’re all in one place.

It’s amazing how many things I own that I forgot about.

Hello chicken timer!

“Is she free?”

Yesterday, I was telling my Pastor about a visit to my boyfriend’s mother, who lives in a sweet little country house in Western Mass. He expressed surprise that she could afford to buy a house in her late 60s.

“Well,” I explained, “she lives frugally.” And she does. Her aesthetic tends toward the sparse and utilitarian. She barely has any material possessions at all.

“Oh. Is she free?” he asked.

“What?” The question caught me off guard.

“Is she free? If she doesn’t have any material possessions weighing her down, she must be a free spirit.”

I had to chew on that one for a while.

“I guess we aren’t all weighed down by the same things,” he admitted eventually. But I wondered, as I settled into my new home, reunited with my old stuff.

As someone who dislikes clutter and likes back-country backpacking, I can certainly appreciate the freedom that comes from living minimally. As someone who has spent almost a decade wandering place-to-place every few months, I can also appreciate creature comforts. (I have internet now! In my house!)

Being home

While most people I know seem to be going in the other direction — worrying over too much stuff, too much technology, too much busy-ness in their lives — I’m sitting on a chair I inherited from my grandmother and deeply appreciating the comfort and consistency of home.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude each morning I bike to work along the gorgeous pond-circling tree-lined path, every night when I tuck my clothes back into my childhood bureau, every time I can sit on my porch and watch the summer storm clouds gather.

Right now, it doesn’t feel like too much to me. It feels like downpours of blessing.

But the minute I feel like my soul’s freedom is in question, it all goes. All of it. Starting with that chicken timer.

Happy that Imperfect Prose is back over at Emily’s! Go visit 🙂



Filed under Musings

6 responses to “Being free and being home

  1. Love this post. I get out of balance when it comes to belongings. While I’m not materialistic and I’d so much rather grab an interesting old chair from a thrift shop for $5 than buy something new, I find so much comfort and life in my home that I can get overloaded with one more throw pillow, one more candle, one more wall hanging, one more picture frame, one more old suitcase or antique typewriter or cool old school desk or whatever. I went through a recent season of a series of not-quite-home places and now that I have a place to breathe, I am taking the role of “making it mine” a little more seriously than I need to. Right now, it all feels like too much crap but I don’t want to clear it all out either. I’m not a hoarder or anything, but I do have to learn to be less comforted by the temporal stuff of this life, less attached to retail therapy and the feeling of rescuing something old and beautiful that comes when I buy more junk and find a place to fit it in my home. I enjoyed the pictures you shared. I don’t have a chicken timer, but I do have an owl one ticking away right beside me right now. 🙂

    • Haha, I like the owl! Perhaps it can befriend my chicken and they can “pass the time” together 🙂
      I appreciated how you expressed your desire to detach from that feeling of rescuing something beautiful because its causing a bit of stress when said beautiful item makes it back to the house. I hope you can keep settling in — in all senses of the term!

  2. There’s no place like home with all our stuff! Even if we don’t have much what we have can make it home. So glad you are reunited! Loved your words.

  3. Oh, wow… this was pretty much like reading about my own life! Except I’m settling down in London and still have a lot of stuff in storage in the U.S. I’ll probably be getting a suitcase a year of forgotten “treasures” to discover until I can’t take it anymore and start floating around the world again. It’s a nice feeling, isn’t it, to settle in… Enjoy

    • Kati, you are always hard to keep track of 🙂 I know you can certainly say a lot on the subject of “home,” having lived so many different places. I wish you happy nesting in your new place — may it be “home” in just the way it needs to be.

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