In the six years of my married life I have set up a new home four times. At a modest estimate, I will be moving twice more within the next three years. At least one of these moves will most likely be another change-of-country move. I think the important thing in all this hiking around is to make each new place “home” for my family as quickly as possible, so we can get down to the business of living.
I’ve developed a system. The first step is to get the place really clean. Removing the dirt, fingerprints, and smells of previous occupants creates a blank canvas. (I’ll opt for the smell of Pine-Sol over someone else’s stir-fry any day.) For me this is almost psychological: I expend energy on a place, I’m claiming it as mine. It’s not unlike a dog marking a hydrant.
The next thing is to get organized and form systems for doing things. There is a lot of troubleshooting to be done usually: this involves how-are-we-going-to-solve-the-bathroom-storage problem and they-don’t-make-curtains-to-fit-that-window. I try to face any uncomfortable features as challenges to be solved as quickly as possible. If we’re going to do it, let’s do it now so we can enjoy it. Our first home was a little one-bedroom apartment in Minneapolis. The day we moved in I intended to hang hooks in the entry way for our coats. The day we moved out, there were still no hooks. We walked our coats to the closet off the kitchen for three years!
Of course, the best way to start making it home is to bring in the familiar and the prized of our things. Doesn’t need to be a lot of big stuff. Just the art we like, the books we reread, our own mugs. One of the things I can’t wait to get out of the box is the lamp I like glowing in my kitchen at night. It creates an empty-stage sort of feeling. It’s waiting for the next performance: dessert and tea, or breakfast. I hope it works on an adapter!
For me the last thing is to start the memory-making. For us this usually means having friends over. But I like to start baking or planning special surprises for just us, too. In this latest move, we’ve been helping Norah to become familiar with every cranny of her home by playing games of hide-and-seek. We’ve been having dress-up parties in her new room and blowing bubbles off the balcony. That’s really all it takes: just a few bubbles off the balcony.