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Pieces of Home

I have moved fifteen times. Military? No. Traveling circus troupe? Nope. Just the move-y sort, I suppose. I can’t blame it on my parents; they only account for three of those relocations. The rest were all me and a certain “the grass is greener on the other side” mentality. Sometimes it was. Certainly, it’s green here at the end. This is the end, right?

Funny thing is, I don’t really like to travel. I’m a homebody. I like nesting – rearranging the bookshelves, fluffing the couch pillows, gazing at how the sunlight filters through the windows and hits the wood floors just so. A well-tended house gives me a deeply peaceful feeling.

A house full of moving boxes gives me exactly the opposite feeling. I’ll unpack without stopping all day, all night, until it’s done. I NEED the house to look like a home, and everything else can wait. The kitchen comes first, then bedrooms; wall art comes last. You need to know where the furniture will finally rest before you can hang pictures. In the last two moves, we added children to the packing list.

The first time, it was just a three-month-old, who was largely oblivious to the change. His world consisted of my arms and his play mat. Those could go anywhere. The first thing we set up in the new house was his changing table, with the mobile above that I’d made of driftwood and shiny ornaments. His first laugh had bubbled up while looking at that mobile; it was his happy place.

The second move, he was three years old, and his brother was one and a half. They noticed the change. The first thing we set up in the new house – besides the toddler bed, stuffed animals, changing table, changing table mobile, crib, crib mobile, play food, highchair, booster seat, busy board, double stroller, plastic easel, toddler table and chairs, sound machines, monitors, cabinet locks, rocking chair, black-out curtains, padded coffee table, and a bucket of trucks – was the sandbox. It was their happy place. My happy place? My home, all of it, and everything in it.

Each move brings a chain of choices – which items to keep, which to donate or throw away. All those moves mean that sets of furniture got broken up; matching pieces didn’t fit in new houses. Once, we went from 3000 square feet to 1000 square feet. Goodbye, captain’s chest and peacock chair. You were beautiful but not multi-functional. We needed multi-functional.

Over time, the hodgepodge of pieces that survived fifteen moves and life changes have come to say “home” to me. A house full of coordinated and matching pieces looks foreign and unloved. Home is the accumulation of those items that have survived alongside me.

It’s the dresser from my childhood bedroom, the only piece of ivory-white little girl’s furniture left, with pictures of Victorian ladies on the drawer pulls. It’s the painting that hung over my grandfather’s bed when he could not move from it, depicting a weathered beach cottage and a dark-clouded sky. It’s the narrow end table that came from my husband’s house, the only piece of his furniture that made its way into our combined home (sorry, dear).

It’s the stories these items tell and the people they bring to mind, especially those loved ones now gone. It’s also the stories yet to be told by the new people in my life. That’s my happy place, at the point where the two intersect.

The easiest part of moving? Saying, “We’re home.”


  1. What a wonderful story. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. And, I feel the exact same way about a move. I need to get all those boxes unpacked as soon as possible. Thank you for writing this dear sweet story.

  2. This gave me all the feels- the bittersweet of leaving things behind while the excitement of a new place rises up in the future. I love an eclectic “set” of pieces and all their stories! Thank you!!

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