Musings, Travel Plans

Home: Letting Go of Place and Things

October 9, 2011

Sunday night. Holed up at home. Desperately avoiding to-do lists.

Day 88 (but who’s counting?) until departure.

I visited a recommended link and landed in the middle of Cheri Lucas’ thoughts: “Roots vs. Wanderlust: On Home, Accumulation & What’s Missing.”

I’ve wrestled deeply with these themes during our season of preparation.

I’m a designer. A cook. A homemaker, too. In Jr. High, I purchased my own subscription to then-brand-new Home and Garden Television. When Cheri writes about the arrival of the CB2 catalog and visions of housewarming parties and guest bedrooms, I know instinctively what she means. That tug of the heart toward a cultivated place. A home that cannot simply spring up overnight, but rather grows slowly, evolving from time and attention, investment and use.

Even as we’ve steered away from mortgages in favor of ship cabins and known the decisions were right, I’ve still craved a back yard and soil of our own. An alternate reality. A life with “a place for everything and everything in it’s place” (as my grandma says).

But we’re saying goodbye to place and things. And I don’t know if or how to imagine resuming a physically rooted lifestyle on the other side of this experience.

And Cheri, too, acknowledges the connundrums.

When she reflects on memories and on picnics, alleys, and reading books aloud, savoring the slow pace of days abroad, I think about the plans we have for life on the road.

Especially lately, as we are parting with possessions and preparing for a nomadic year, I’m challenged to release my home-based rituals. It’s no secret among my friends that I’ve experienced a strange disequilibrium in the kitchen, watching the seasons change without preserving food for winter and letting empty mason jars leave my doors in the arms of new stewards.

Dwelling . . . inhabiting . . . settling: each so very good.

Wandering, exploring, waving goodbye: the cadence of story very different.

Our roots cannot be entwined in the things of life, but the connection to family and friends, the relationships longer lasting and more deeply meaningful than any accumulation of possessions or pinpointed place.

So home, as it seems, remains in our hearts.

It’s unforeseen how these mixed desires and decisions will meld into one, cohesive, future life. For now, I’m learning the value of the full heart and outstretched, empty hand: ready to give, and ready to receive.

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  • Reply Cheri Lucas October 10, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Thank you so much for reading my post on this. I’m really glad you identified with it. It’s an ongoing struggle and it’s actually comforting to know that others feel the same push-pull. And I think the conflict is ultimately natural, as a big part of me feels that the drive for both wanderlust and a concrete “home” is oddly inspiring and keeps me (us) curious and thirsty for life.

    • Reply twoOregonians October 10, 2011 at 8:12 am

      Yes! You said it so well. Thank you for the comfort of shared emotions… After all this, I went to bed last night with that She & Him song, “Home,” running through my head:

      I could be your state and I could be your nation
      It doesn’t get better than home, now does it?
      Doesn’t get better than home, now does it?

      I want to be where your heart is home


  • Reply Kim October 10, 2011 at 6:31 am

    This make me want to cry, it’s so beautiful. And I know exactly what you mean, exactly how you feel. I sometimes remind myself of a quote I heard “you can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once.” Maybe that’s true? I miss my cultivated home, where each thing was selected with care, a place that was filled with love and attention and memories. We haven’t found that yet in our new place and I wonder… will we find it on the road?

    • Reply twoOregonians October 10, 2011 at 8:05 am

      Great quote…and so true. I wonder, too, if we’ll find it on the road. We received a little metal sign with the word “amore” scripted across as a wedding present years ago, and I’ve hung it above our bed in every home we’ve lived in. That little piece of consistency has been comforting through various moves…and I’ve tried to think of a similar token to travel with. Not sure what may be meaningful or even practical. It may end up simply being the sight of our backpacks in each and every room along the way… :) Always great to hear from you, Kim!

  • Reply Valynne October 10, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Yes. A heartfelt post that I can very much relate to. In 2009, we sold the house and at least 4,000sf of contents (I would say we sold or donated a good 95% of “stuff”). It was mostly Paul’s, as I had never been one to settle down in one place for long. Two years have gone by since we hit the road, going from sit to sit with no place of our own. I have asked Paul a couple of times if he misses any of his stuff, and he assures me that he does not. Now, we are here in Portland and loving it and have decided to rent a “home base”. Everything (except for the bed) is being purchased at consignment shops, estate sales, etc. and we are enjoying the process. If/when we decide to spread wings again, we will sell or donate. The few things we had no intention of letting go of (mainly books and art) are in a 10×10 storage unit in Cape Cod, and Paul is off to retrieve them next week. Letting go can be difficult, but it is amazing how much lighter we felt once we did (and no regrets, which I was a little nervous about with Paul). So much change for you – but such good change! What an adventure you embarking on. Seriously excited for you both! V

    • Reply twoOregonians October 10, 2011 at 7:58 am

      Thank you, Valynne! You’re so right about how much lighter we feel. Each time I take a stack to recycling or add to the sale pile or send something home with a friend, I feel less responsibility (in a good way) – less need to keep and clean and sort. Glad that you’re setting into life in Portland (and fortunate for you that there are great little spots for thrifty and classy second-hand furnishings scattered all around this city!). How nice that Paul will soon be fetching your books and art :) I hope it will be a happy reunion!

  • Reply sim November 4, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    I’m in a similair position. There are some items in storage in case the nomadic approach to life doesn’t work for us, but we sold most of what we own. There is one week left before we fly out for 2+year nomadic adventure and I’m kind of FREAKING OUT. I’m excited about the adventure ahead but I’m entering a lifestyle I don’t fully understand. I don’t know what to expect. At home, there is a standard recipe to life we can all follow, but on the road you make your own path. It’s slightly daunting. Over the past few weeks I keep asking myself… ‘what the F are you doing?’. At the same time, I know that if I weren’t embarking on this adventure then I would be asking myself ‘What the F are you doing?’. Haha.

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