Lucy Lemay Cellucci

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Coming Home

home1 This month, my family and I are celebrating an important anniversary. It is the twelfth year that we have been living in our home. For most people, this would not seem like anything significant enough to warrant a date on the calendar, but seeing as we are the original occupants of the structure we had built to house our dreams and ambitions, we (okay, I) tend to get a little nostalgic at this time of year as I recall how excited my husband and I were to move into our first home. I remember the thrill of visiting the construction site that is now our neighborhood, the anticipation we felt to move in and begin our lives as the family that we would soon start, even the way we romanticized the mundane tasks of home ownership. For us, this wood and concrete structure that was going up bit by bit in front of our eyes was the carrier of our hopes and dreams. It would singlehandedly ferry us into happiness.

IMG_0703[1]TAKE A CLOSER LOOK… During the process of our home’s construction, we did what a lot of people do; we allowed ourselves to get carried away with all the excitement and view the house as something that would bring us happiness. Perhaps that is why so many of us become disillusioned at some point with the place we hang our hats at the end of the day. For us, once the novelty and euphoria had worn off, we began to compare what we had with what others around us possessed. In our neighborhood, there are trendy stacked condos, lovely townhomes, even lovelier single-family homes, and the grandiose, three-car-garage homes with immaculate upgrades. My husband and I both come from modest backgrounds. When we first moved into our present house, it felt palatial. Not one, but two bathrooms! I enjoyed the task of feathering our new nest and the feeling of success — the official arrival into adulthood — that came along with it. But the more familiar we became with our neighborhood, the more our perspective began to change. Suddenly, the idea of being attached at the garage or sharing a driveway with a neighbor felt like an inconvenience. We had been invited to the Jones’s house for an evening of entertainment, and we left feeling the desire to keep up.

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NOW ADJUST YOUR PERSPECTIVE… Just as depression will distort the mind’s filter and cause one to see negativity, being surrounded by lovely, grandiose houses can also distort one’s perception of what is required to live comfortably and contentedly. This was never more poignant than when a longtime friend from my hometown came to visit me a few months ago. It was the first time he had come to my home. I actually had to suppress a chuckle when he complimented its loveliness. My immediate reaction was to dismiss the compliment, because I just lived in a little townhouse. Even as I write this, I want to give myself a good, hard smack in the mouth. Twelve years ago, when I first moved into this “little” house, I thought it was the coziest, most beautiful house I had ever seen. Now, it appeared as if I considered myself a resident of some obscure suburban ghetto. First-world problems. Good thing I’m tough. A few years ago, after we aborted an attempt to move into a larger house in a different neighborhood, I started looking at my house with fresh eyes. Instead of seeing an old, outdated breakfast bar, I saw the multitasking nook that had given me a great place to roll out pastry, an ideal place to change an infant and house baby supplies on the main floor, a sunny, open space to sit with my laptop and gather inspiration for writing or choreography,  and a large, flat area for my children to draw and paint. Instead of being frustrated by my house’s small entrance, I transformed the walk-in hall closet into a mini-mudroom. We renovated the basement. We built a deck in the backyard. (Okay,technically, my sister and her husband built a deck in our backyard, but I watched attentively.) Little by little, we became invested once again in our house, giving it that wonderful feeling that is known as “home”.

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WHAT IS A HOME? While the words house and home are synonymous, for me the word house refers to the actual physical structure of the building, while the word home relates to all the sentimental value that is attached to it. Home is a feeling. It’s the place where you belong and are most at ease. It’s that spot on the couch where you always sit. It’s that favourite teacup that your wife always uses. It’s the pile of pillows on the floor of your daughter’s closet where she sits to read her comic books and write the word poo on the walls when she’s angry with you. It’s the Lego X-Wing on top of your fireplace mantel that doesn’t go with anything, but could not be anywhere else, because it’s a reminder of the Christmas morning that your husband and son spent building it while consuming an entire Terry’s Chocolate Orange. It’s your return from a long day to the smell of something great cooking in the kitchen. It’s the relief you feel as your feet slide into the coolness of your sheets, and you allow yourself to succumb to sleep. Whether you live in a yurt, an apartment, or a mansion, the feeling of being at home is something that has absolutely nothing to do with the size or appearance of your dwelling. It has to do with the emotions you invest into it. When you no longer infuse your living accommodations with the feelings of happiness, you will cease to be happy living there. If you want to feel at home, you must be at home — not daydreaming about how much better your life would be if you could make a different house your home. That is a game that can never be won. For now, we are comfortable and confident that our house is able to give us everything we require. As the weather continues to warm up, I find my thoughts drifting to the backyard and playing in the dirt — preparing the garden, adding some perennial beds — all of these are activities that I associate with one of my favorite places to be in the summer. And when I am out and about with my children, one of the sweetest phrases to hear at the end of our outing is a tired, yet content “Mommy, can we go home now?”

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