My Nest

20 May

This month’s issue of Skirt! Magazine is titled, “The Nest” and is all about home. In thinking about that word, I realized that home brings up more positive feelings than most words do. “Love” can bring up hurtful memories, and “family” can bring up all kinds of mess, but “home” is one of those words that has few negative associations. Being the huge dork that I am, I looked up the definition of home and found this one: an environment offering affection and security.

Not a building with a grand entrance and perfect decor. An environment offering affection and security. Indeed.

As I’ve shared with those of you who read this blog (Hi, Mom!), I’ve recently gotten a house of my very own. I’m working on making it my home, and I identified with one of the essays so much that I had to share the last part of it with you. I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Skirt! and read it in its entirety (or simply click here). It is well worth your time, and I don’t do it justice by only giving you a section of it.

“There may be guidebooks to help single women buy a house, but there’s no manual for living alone in your own home. My house soon became a visible record of all my limitations: the dining room window I couldn’t close; the exposed electrical switch I hadn’t been able to install; the secondhand mower I couldn’t shut off without a sledgehammer. When the weird smell in the basement turned out to be backed-up sewage, it dawned on me how much I’d relied on men to take care of things for me. Growing up, my father had been the one to stoke the woodstove and shovel the driveway. In college, a boyfriend had changed the light bulb in my dark refrigerator. When I saw a mouse in my apartment, the landlord dutifully arrived with a mousetrap. But now there was no one to call. For the first time ever, I was on my own.

Before I bought my house I used to think that the biggest social divide was between single and married people. But it turns out that it’s between renters and homeowners. One night not too long ago I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the dark curtainless window. Gone were my strappy gold sandals and French manicured nails. Instead I was wearing a paint-splattered white undershirt, cut-off Levis and a purple bandana over my hair. My shoulders were ropy from wielding paint rollers and hoisting the aluminum ladder, and my thumbs were spotted with blisters. I was drinking a Labatt’s Blue and eating a slice of cold pizza. For a split second, I didn’t recognize myself. And then I realized that I’d become my own handyman.

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize the defining moments in our lives when they’re happening. I understand now what I couldn’t have known that cold day in February: that by entering the house I was not only crossing the invisible border between being a renter and being a homeowner, but also expanding the territory of who I was and what I thought I could do. Renting may have given me the illusion of dwelling in the present moment free from attachments, but deep down I was waiting for my “real life” to begin. Buying a house is a declarative act of intentional living; instead of hoping someone else will make my future for me, my house taught me to claim it for myself. In my mind’s eye I see myself hover over that windowsill threshold with one foot on the porch and one foot in the house, poised between two worlds. Then I take a deep breath and jump in with both feet, ready to explore all that waits within.”
-Megan Fulwiler

Megan Fulwiler teaches English at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. When she’s not working on her house, she walks her dog, reads food blogs and practices yoga.

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