|Looking at the South Pacific from beautiful New Zealand|
My family just moved into a different house here in New Zealand. We arrived in the country eight months ago and at the time were put in temporary housing until finding our own place.
Not knowing much about Kiwi housing, we found a place quickly that was in the city and suited our needs at the time. Our first night in the house, we had a terrible storm with strong southerlies. Our house, which we didn’t know at the time, was facing south (something you have to pay attention to here). Being up high on a hill, the wind hit our house with full force, which left us often feeling as though we were in the center of a tornado. This house had no insulation whatsoever; the heat from the wood burner was swept right through the cracks. Our walls and windows whistled so loudly that I couldn’t tell if it was the baby crying or a dying cat outside.
Finally moving into summer weather, we thought we could put the electric heaters away. That was not the case. Our house was bone-chilling cold. It was the middle of the summer and on windy days we were dressed in sweaters due to the lack of insulation and sunlight.
But it was home.
Everyone said to us this was what to expect out of Kiwi houses and that we would eventually get used to it. But we couldn't get used to the outrageously expensive electric bill. Plus, you know there's something wrong when you're excited to get into the car because you can turn on the heat.
So as our lease was about to expire the end of February, my husband and I searched for the house that had “everything”. And we found one. Although located further outside the city, it has a nice little yard (garden) for our son to play in; more importantly, it's insulated! But…it has ants. And flies. And mold in the bathroom. And loud neighbors. And a long commute that usually means at some point during the day I will be sitting in traffic. Not to mention, the landlord has really duped us on the rent.
Thinking about home, I'm reminded of my early 20s when I was trying desperately to find my new home. I understood that my parents’ house wasn't supposed to be my home any longer. While it was my physical address, it was time to move on and find a new place to belong. I think that’s why I traveled around; took my adventure to San Francisco so that I could try to find my vibe. Even at age 24, when I finally took that leap out of their home and into my own which was actually back East, I still hadn’t found my tribe. Now, living here in New Zealand I feel like I have finally found both tribe and home.
Perhaps this house is imperfect. Perhaps it doesn’t have the large yard we used to have in the states with the three large apple trees in the back yard. Perhaps it doesn’t have the large vegetable garden or the Audubon center where we used to hike. Perhaps the landlord is greedy.
But it has so much more.
While at times we struggle with a need for the familiarity of our old US home (and I miss my parents and the lakes of the Midwest like crazy!), New Zealand has surprised us with how comforting it does feel. We have friendships here that we have waited for- people who care about our son and us and accept our creative quirky personalities. People who I want my son to learn from and know.
It is home to me because of these people we have met. It is home because it's where my son is (wherever he is will always be home). It's home because the energy from the mountains and the valleys and the ocean calls to me. It's home because I can write and sing and be creative. It's home because there is respect and sincerity and faith in something greater than all of us among the people. And so much more. It's home.
I started working on this post earlier in the week. I’m happy it has taken me this long to finish because I just read a blurb from Elizabeth Gilbert’s (author; see previous post) TED talk this week that hits… well, home:
To read about her talk: Ted talk
And to paraphrase she writes on her Facebook page:
“If you are looking for your home in the world, here is a clue: It's whatever you love more than you love yourself. (Addiction and infatuation don't count! Unsafe neighborhoods in which to build a home!) Identify that worthy thing to love, and abide there”.
I couldn’t have said it any better.