I’ve been saying we’re 90% unpacked for a month now. The problem is that we’re actually completely unpacked, but that last 10% is the feeling of coming home that has yet to occur. Even when we left our new apartment for two weeks during a trip to the UK, the homecoming wasn’t what I had pictured; instead, I walked into a 3rd floor apartment that seemed vaguely familiar, but somewhat sterile. And I swallowed the hard truth that building a home takes time.
In June, Will and I spent our days searching for housing in Houston, and I had the perfect place in mind: a small, 2-bedroom duplex close to his office. It was going to have green space, a porch, and perhaps a small backyard for a dog. I swore off all apartment complexes (I was “over that”) and decided it was high time to have more of a home in which we could host overnight guests.
Yet here I am, in an 850 sq. ft., 3rd floor unit in an apartment complex in the middle of a concrete jungle so lovingly known as H-town. And I love it—but not because it fulfills my wishlist.
Moving may be the most centering practice one can take part in. For most Americans, it is a time of intentionality, whether we realize it or not. Will and I quickly discovered that deciding on a place to live reveals our picture of the good life: What is most important to us? What needs to be a priority?
For us, time was a deciding factor. We wanted time to spend together, time not spent commuting, and time to spend with others. The “good life” was creating time together and having the means to host guests.
Being a one-car family, we had to make the decision of owning another car or living close enough to Will’s workplace so that he could walk or use public transportation (which, may I mention, is a complete joke in Houston). And for many reasons—financial stability, simplicity, etc.—we decided against the 2nd car, and limited our house hunting to a small area in the Westchase District of Houston: a bustling, expensive, retail-heavy, oil and gas section about 30 minutes from downtown. It is a far cry from the Clifton Neighborhood in Cincinnati that we moved from—instead of historic theatres and eclectic coffee shops and Victorian homes, we have chain restaurants and office buildings and apartment complexes.
But for all of my shattered expectations, I must remember: I chose to inhabit this space. Even being limited by income, we still had choices to make. Will and I intentionally chose to forego the 2nd bedroom and 2nd car and long commute, opting instead for a more simplistic lifestyle near Will’s work, with the added bonus of Will coming home most days for lunch.
We may not have ultimate freedom in all of our choices, but we still make decisions that reveal our definition of the good life. No, we could not afford a larger house ideal for entertaining, but we could choose to live small in order to live simply. At another point in our lives, we may have made a different decision; but for now, we have faithfully and prayerfully chosen a space to inhabit. And one day soon, it will feel like home.