When I was ten or so, my best friend lived a few streets over and her home felt to me like my home. We’d ride our bikes back and forth at the smallest whim. I remember one summer hopping on my bike because “Benny and the Jets” was on the radio, and it was our favorite song EVER. It was still on when I burst through her back door and shared the last bars of the song with her. Of course, those were the days when you couldn’t just hit play on your iPod and enjoy the song over again. You’d better live in the moment and rock out while Benny and the Jets was playing or you were out of luck.
I really liked my friend’s house, but I was always puzzled by one tradition: the majority of their downstairs living space was taken up by a wonderful room filled with beautiful white furniture, polished wood floors and a grand piano. I loved that room, even though I only remember being in it one time. It was off limits to kids and — from what I could see — adults. I’d say that there were plastic slip covers on the furniture, but I’m not absolutely sure of that. Regardless, there was no sitting to be done on those couches. No, we spent our time huddled in the cozy den, squished on the big couch that was filled with toys and dogs. There were once baby rabbits in the corner, and there was a record player where we could enjoy the strange music her parents purchased. I think I remember a Godspell record. In any case, the den was where it was at.
I’ve been thinking about that house today, because I have recently decided that I want to be “at home” in my entire life. I want to live in every corner of my house, finding nooks to write or read or paint or sleep. I want people in every corner of my home, talking, laughing, crying and living life. I’m tired of fences and rooms that are only for certain people. It’s time to remember how to live in our homes.
And it’s time to remember how to live in our lives, too. Someday is…right now. There are amazing riches of relationships just waiting for us. There are bursts of creativity, and health, and all those dreams we’ve put off for someday. Now. Because that’s how God made us to live: in the present.
These are the cupcakes that I made today, because today is worth celebrating. And I’m declining to post a picture of me doing Yoga later because of the celebrating I did today. But the rooms of my life aren’t roped off for special occasions. It’s time to sit on the floor and pull out the paints.
I got home this week.
It’s odd, really, because I’ve also been home all month. I’ve been home in our condo in Lexington, or on the lake in New Hampshire where I’ve spent nearly every summer of my life. I breathe in the fresh air of those places and my inner sense of being profoundly at home is magnified.
And then I arrive back in Palm Beach Gardens, my own home, my real home.
I love the process of wandering through my rooms to see the bits and pieces of my life. I enjoy seeing what has changed (lots of people in and out of our home, even when we are gone!) and what has stayed the same. I smell the scent of the air, which is a limited-time opportunity because I know my nose will habituate in an hour or so. And then — if schedule permits — I leave.
Because part of my home is the Third Place, the places in my community that feel like home to me.
Contrary to popular opinion, Starbucks is not my first stop. Whole Foods is. If I can cook a meal and know there are good things to eat in my kitchen, my little universe is set right on its axis. And then comes Starbucks. Yesterday David and I sat here in my preferred corner of Sbux and watched the regulars float in and out. I was particularly struck with the sense of community yesterday. We were greeted like old friends by staff and customers alike, and then we learned that a barista’s father had passed away suddenly. There were sympathy cards to sign, and the story to repeat. Everyone had time to hear the story and send good wishes to the grieving barista, who is due back at work today. She misses her support system, and working behind the counter is where she wants to be.
A few minutes later I was listening to a businesses woman who regularly sits in the chair next to the best electrical outlet talk to one of the more eccentric men who wanders in and out. He hums as he walks, almost involuntarily, and repeats every sentence at least twice. Conversations with him take awhile, but she was enjoying time away from her cell phone and computer.
“My baby girl, my baby girl, that’s her right there,” he said, pointing at a car pulling up outside.
“She’s your girl? I know her!” business woman says. “Hey,” she continues, poking another regular who uses headphones seemingly to drown out conversations like this one. “Hey, you know that mom with the kids that come in here all the time? She’s his daughter!” The two of them remarked over this for a few minutes, to the joy of the proud papa.
“She is all I have left in the world,” he said. He went on to describe how his wife of 38 years had died a year or two ago in a horrible, quick death. He sat and mumbled “Unbelievable” ten or fifteen times while the two regulars said how sorry they were, but how much they always enjoyed his grandchildren when they were in the store. He brightened again, and stood up to hug his daughter.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about Third Places in the community, and the need for the missional-minded among us to be out and about in the community. Yesterday I realized that “out and about” can also feel a lot like being at home. And at least for a few minutes, this Third Place felt as if it were functioning an awful lot like the body of Christ, rejoicing and comforting and being there for life’s journey.
Even if it’s only for a short time, it sure felt good to be home.