Home Is Wherever I’m with You
Author: Angela Krysevig
I’ve been everywhere, man;
I’ve been everywhere, man;
Crossed the deserts bare, man;
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man;
Travel, I’ve had my share, man;
I’ve been everywhere.
To me, and to anyone who has lived an active duty military life, these words penned by the late, great Johnny Cash ring all too true. In the seven years that my husband has been in the military, we have moved four times, each move taking us from our native East Coast to the West Coast and back again. In the past year alone, we moved from Georgia to Arizona back to Georgia again in six months (with a newborn in tow)! With each move, we have had to re-establish ourselves in our new community. Our relocation to the Lowcountry has been my favorite, by far, but I learned some valuable lessons during my stay here. I found myself getting caught up in the lifestyle. My priorities had shifted out of focus, and what used to be unimportant to me suddenly was important.
I will admit, when I first moved here, I was jealous of my civilian friends with their “forever homes.” I would see their projects around the house, their renovations and their expensive furniture (which they could buy because it wasn’t going to be picked up, moved within the next year, and arrive at a new location banged around and scuffed). I began to feel a little disappointed by my own four white walls and the stack of boxes we were never going to unpack, because what was the point when we were moving in a year anyway? I lived in a town where everyone was established, settled and retired. Southern living was beautiful homes decorated with a cozy, coastal feel and just a whiff of “wealth.” My home was the antithesis: worn in (or worn out depending on the part of the couch you were sitting on), with a ready-to-go-at-a-moment’s-notice feel and a whiff of “empty.”
All of this bouncing around from place to place, feeling as though my house was “inadequate” made me wonder about what it is that really makes a place feel like home. Obviously, it’s not always a tangible thing—for me, it’s most often a combination of things, from getting to know my neighbors and finding a great local coffee shop, to unpacking my books and personal mementos. If I had to choose one thing, I would say it’s a general sense of ease and familiarity, knowing exactly what you are coming home to and tucking yourself away from the rest of the world, where you can feel comfortable just being.
In the spirit of embracing my home, flaws and all, here is the unofficial list in the official Home Issue of what makes my house a home:
The house smell: It is a distinct aroma of a (clean) home that I only notice when I leave for an extended period of time and return. Everyone’s home smells different. It is the scent that clings to the blanket you brought on a trip, curing your homesickness, and the first hug you receive upon your return.
My dog, where he is not supposed to be: He knows he’s not allowed on the furniture, but I can always find him sleeping on the sectional. Even when he’s not there, his hair lingers no matter how much I try to vacuum it away.
An obstacle course of shoes strewn throughout the hallway: Two adults and two kids leave me, most days, muttering obscenities under my breath as I bend down for what feels like the four-hundredth time to pick up the shoes and neatly arrange them in the closet. It’s a battle I will never win, and I’m okay with that. I am constantly reminded that I have a family here with me, and I am not alone.
Toys taking over the living room: I originally wanted my living room to look like a display out of a Pottery Barn catalog: fabulous and pristine. However, with two kids under the age of two, it looks more like Toys “R” Us was looted and dumped in front of my fireplace.
The hand-me-down piece of furniture: It’s not vintage. It’s not antique. Of course, it does not match anything. But who cares? It was the first piece of furniture my husband and I bought together.
The unloading zone: This is the place where I throw my keys, purse, wallet and mail as soon as I get home. This area is a messy, frustrating pile of crap that should be organized but never ends up getting there.
My house is not a dirty house. But, my house is not a glossy magazine cover. My house is not a sprawling Southern mansion. My house is a place where friends can eat at the coffee table. A house may be decorated from floor to ceiling with the finest furnishings money can buy. But that will never, ever make it a home.
A home is a sanctuary. Home is comfort. Home is inviting. Home is a refuge from the world. Home is where you wear your coziest clothing with only comfort and never fashion in mind. Home is where there are kids’ fingerprints on the windows. Home is where my family is.
Angela Krysevig hails from Pittsburgh and currently lives in Augusta, Georgia with her husband, 19-month-old son, and newborn daughter. She operates a blog, armywifeandmommylife.svbtle.com, which chronicles her experiences as a military wife and new mother.