I've had a couple of interesting experiences this week. About a week ago, we said goodbye to Jacob's brother and his fiancee, and it always stinks to say goodbye to family. It makes the ocean feel mighty large. In addition to just the general "down-ness" that saying goodbye to people you love brings about, we knew they were headed back to the states to plan a wedding and look for their first house.
Here's a little-known "Jacob and Carrie fact." When we were dating, we would sometimes go to Home Depot and look at their model kitchens and talk about what we'd want someday. I was probably 18 or so at the time. We never dreamed that we'd be in our late-20s and never have owned a house nor have any house-purchase on the horizon. While I'm not really a homebody, creating my own home has always been so important to me, and sometimes it leaves me feeling so sad that I haven't really been able to do that.
This is the apartment complex where we live. We're in the building on the far right.
I know there are lots of other perspectives on this -- we don't have a mortgage; we have our whole lives to own a home; we don't have to deal with maintenance, etc. But to be honest, there's nothing I really want more than my own little nest. And it has very little to do with the stage of life I'm in right now and more to do with a lifelong yearning. The fact that Jacob's little brother is now well on his way to achieving this "growing up" milestone just makes us feel even more like we're in some weird twilight zone where we never really move through the stages of life but instead remain stuck in this dusty Chinese village while everyone else is moving on... buying new homes and cars, having babies, getting promotions, etc.
Last weekend was hard. I threw a little pity party and stayed far too late. I wrote this miserable "woe is me" blog post and realized it really shouldn't be published. And then the busy-ness of the week took over, and I didn't really think about it anymore.
Until Friday night when my apartment was invaded by 6 of my closest friends. They were all cuddled under blankets in our living room and suddenly everyone started to get really sleepy. I was teasing them, since it was only about 7 pm, and then they said... "It's because your house is so comforting. The soft music, warm lighting, candles burning... It's so relaxing we can't help but get sleepy."
Ahhh, how my heart swelled.
I do want a home someday. And one of my biggest concerns about staying long-term in China is that I'll never have that. I may never be able to let go of that dream. But I think I might be learning that a home isn't about cabinets and countertops or wood floors and recessed lighting. It's about a haven of warmth and love. And I don't have to own my four walls to create that.
There's another part of this story worth mentioning... About a month ago, Jacob and I had the opportunity to stay in a really nice hotel for one night that had an amazing bathtub. Seriously. It was gorgeous. It was deep and long -- actually long enough for me to stretch all the way out in, which is unusual since I'm tall. And it was on the 18th floor of the hotel and set against floor to ceiling windows looking out over the city. I was in heaven. I took 3 baths in less than 24 hours. I didn't want to leave my little paradise when check-out time came.
But you know what?
If we had a bathtub at home, I don't think I would have appreciated it nearly as much. So here's what I'm telling myself - a simple life helps me savor the finer things when I get an opportunity to enjoy them!