I miss the familiar comfort of my home. I miss my futon bed, I miss my well-stocked kitchen, I miss all my books. I miss opening the bathroom closet and finding absolutely everything I need. I miss picking out a pretty cup and saucer for my evening ritual of tea. I miss sitting in my living room reading or watching TV with the dogs hanging out in their favorite spots. I miss letting the dogs out and not needing to go out with them to stand guard near the weak fence slats so they won’t escape. The rental house is quite nice and large, too large for us really, and the neighborhood is good, but it’s not home. I’m just plain homesick.
Stripped down, my house no longer feels familiar. Wandering around inside, I can walk through areas where the walls used to be. I hardly recognize where one room ends and the next one begins. The house is a skeleton of what it was. Even once the walls are up, the flooring is down, and the kitchen and bathrooms are installed, it won’t be the home I left before the fire. It won’t be the home of my memories. Everything will be new and different, including much of the furniture. Starting over again can be exciting and fun; I know because I’ve done it, more than once. There’s a difference, though, when it’s involuntary.
If I were planning to stay in the old-new house, I could eventually spread out my belongings, decorate according to my taste, and make it mine again. Instead, I will keep the house as neutral and impersonal as possible for potential buyers. The walls will be an inoffensive beige with few art pieces. Most of them were ruined and I’d rather wait until I have a new house to buy art. I won’t unpack most of my salvaged possessions that the restoration people have cleaned since I’m planning to move again as soon as I sell. At least I won’t have to hunt down boxes this time, I console myself. Everything the contractor delivers to my house will already be boxed up, nice and neat, ready to stack in my garage.
It’s been about three months since I lived in my home. I went from the business trip hotel to my neighbors’ guest room to an extended-stay hotel and finally to a rental house for the duration. Bit by bit, I’ve replaced some of household goods, creating a small sense of home, but the furniture and linens and appliances are rentals, so the general feeling is that of a temporary residence. I feel more like a guest than a host, and no matter how nice the accommodations, being a guest over the long haul is stressful. You just can’t let your hair down quite the same way as you can in your very own home. I don’t feel like this every day, luckily, but when I do, it’s overwhelming, like a tidal wave of nostalgia. There’s not much I can do about it except hold onto the idea that this is just one stage of my life that will be over relatively soon. Until then, I’ll go on missing my home.