At my three-year-old Blues Clues birthday party, a girl tried to blow out my candles. I snapped, “It’s my birthday.” We caught it on tape. Nobody ever lets me forget it. Even at three, I was territorial, very fixed on having a special place, a special time, a special something “just for me.”
It’s my birthday.
We’re all like that sometime. In a world we won’t let own us, in a busy life that oftentimes does, we crave space. We crave a territory. We want to put down roots in something untainted by another’s opinion, in a place where we can breathe and create and reconnect with ourselves – and something greater than ourselves.
I think that’s why women love home. I never understood it before, the womanly obsession with vacuuming and decorating. Why not throw a rug over the unswept floor, hide the dirty dishes under a towel and keep that ugly couch? That was my logic. (If you saw my desk, you would know why.)
Then I got my own room.
I grew up with bunk beds and babies. Two to a room, at least – we were at four girls and two bunk beds as of a few weeks ago. And I loved the communal aspect of bunking with best friends. I loved the late night chats and the early morning murmurs. I saw it as “our” space (and as such, I relieved myself of the responsibility of keeping it picked up – Bethany would do it).
When the baby quit her crib and bumped my younger sister into my top bunk, I was homeless. I packed up and went for a walk down our hallway (17 seconds if you take the laundry room shortcut) and overwhelmed myself with my new room.
Me? Alone? In a big bed closer to the floor than the ceiling? Downright traumatic, if you ask me. Yet the prospect was a curious one.
It was the former guest room. My mother had redecorated it a while before, hanging black-and-white wedding photos and baby pictures, shelving mementos and handmade keepsakes. I was surrounded by home. By family. By women who’d made up my mother’s past and my present. And I was moving in here with my American Girl doll and a couple of photos, to add my presence into the mix.
I wanted to make it my home, too. To put down roots. To keep the bedspread smoothed and the Kleenex in the trash and the floor vacuumed.
This was my place.
I settled in just before Christmas, just after we’d cut a pile of floppy snowflakes. Giddy with homeness, I taped them above my bed to watch them dance in winter light. I was very satisfied with myself.
And that got me thinking. What made this a home to me – my space?
Beauty. Simplicity. Breathing space. And people. People primarily. Little sisters getting ready for their first piano recital. Sister sleepovers. Littlest Pet Shop adventures on the carpet. I was excited that this room was mine, a room for private chats and house-wide giggle fests, hospitality to friends and a place to open up. I wanted to make this space my own – so I could give it away.
It wouldn’t be “home” to me – my special space – unless people were there, unless love was there, unless pictures were on the walls and on the mirror and on my heart. Three-year-old Bailey? It’s your birthday when you share.
I think home is like that – a piece of ourselves. A piece that we cultivate and beautify and cherish. A special space. A place we can go home to. A place in which we can be home. It’s something very precious to us – and something that isn’t complete until we give it all away.
How do you make your space home?
Photos by Bethany