Home is What We Make It

A Sonos speaker and a charging dock. Two inconsequential household items, yet I was sucker-punched to see them as we settled into the Sundial House in Lyme. In my house in Shoreview, we have both and use them regularly; they have become part of the landscape of our home. To see items from my house in a dining room across the world felt like a mockery of the life I missed. But I refuse to spend the next month in self-pity and nostalgia; I will be present and soak up the blessings that surround me like the constant rain.

A day later. I am stubbornly clinging to optimism and gratitude in the face of exhaustion and social burnout.I want to get out of this weather and away from these people. I want to go home, We plod up the hill, defying the droplets that heckle us from above. I don’t want to be here any more than the next person, but I know I will never experience these moments again, and I refuse to let them pass me without gratitude. I brandish my umbrella, a talisman against the rain and the resentment. I will drink up every moment of these next 29 days. Within 30 minutes I have traded my umbrella for sunglasses and am veritably traipsing through the same woods that I fought through moments earlier. I have always felt at home under a blue sky and green trees, wherever I am in the world.

After the hike, eggs and French toast and bacon rest in serving dishes around a table. Eight mugs are brimming with warmth, eight distinct voices blend into a soul-nourishing clamor. What was a mockery of a home has become a reinvention, an adaptation. It may not be the home I am used to, but it is a home nonetheless. We create this home by serving each other, by creating intentional community time, by laughing and living together. I refuse to waste these precious 29 days. I will sink into the blessings and lessons of each day,

It is Fawkesgiving, our own special holiday. The eight inhabitants of Sundial House have spent a collective 24 hours preparing potatoes, roasting chickens, and concocting a pumpkin dip that is a delightful danger. We set the table and document our aesthetic efforts for social media. It is the calm before the storm.

Chicken and sweet potatoes and green beans and French silk pie lounge on my plate. Our pumpkin pie awaits devouring and the creamy pumpkin dip is already half gone. After five hours in the kitchen, we have opened our home to our friends and created something beautiful. I had been expecting to be bowled over by homesickness throughout the evening, but my only tears fight through during the gratitude exchange, a moment to truly celebrate each other and the amazing journey we are blessed to share. I enjoy reaping the fruits of the labor of the day, but once again Iam overwhelmed by the number of people in our house. The eight of us have created a home perfect for us, and the sheer number of guests feels more overwhelming than welcoming. When the party dies down, the eight of us gather in the basement to just be together and nourish our souls with community. The storm passed and we found comfort in relaxing in our own home.

Eight hours later my housemates join me again, and we share the quiet vulnerability of an early morning, laughing about homework progress and nibbling our Thanksgiving leftovers. The basement is a mess of Monopoly but the kitchen is clean, a testament to our diligence and collaboration. This is my home now, and I never want to leave.

I do miss the community of my home, but sterling moments of new community exist right in front of me. They exist around a shared table, each scholar fighting against a deadline. They exist in the kitchen, as we stand shoulder to shoulder, staring down the suds. Home is what we make it, and we have made an oasis of community and rest.

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