i didn’t find the squat yellow square right away. i wasn’t intended to. the someone who had scribbled it had tucked it away. left it in a hard-to-find place where i’d bumble upon it, oh, heaven-knows-when.
it was in the stack of post-its, when i eventually found it. not at the top where a name and a street address had been scribbled. it was one sheet down. quietly awaiting discovery.
actually, it was right on my desk, nestled beside my computer. so it wasn’t intended to take forever to find. just long enough. just enough to come up and tap me quietly on the shoulder. to say, psssst. here’s a message.
the message read: “you have a very ‘homey’ home!!”
i glowed when i read it.
especially because the someone who wrote it spends plenty of time here, but doesn’t live here herself. and i grew up in her house, a house i never really thought of as homey or not. it was simply, completely, capital-h Home. the place where most of my stories are rooted.
my mama wrote that note. my mama who is more inclined to note the beauty of a bird’s feather than to pay close attention to wallpaper. who cares more about tromping through the woods, in search of a bluebird’s nest, than picking out pillows for any old couch.
my mama, you see, grew up in a beautifully appointed house. a house where the living room was not to be touched. where nicknacks were to be tiptoed around. where when you sat down on a velvety cushion you tried not to move, lest you crumple the nap of the velvet.
i, growing up under the wing of these two house-makers, one spare, inclined toward the natural, the other well-upholstered, in a house with nooks and crannies that took my breath away, well, i seem to have landed plop in the middle.
give me a nook any day. give me a corner dripping with charm. but don’t over-upholster. and do bring the outside in.
the number one aim of this house that is ours is to make it feel like two out-reaching arms, arms that fold you in, hold you close to the bosom. arms that offer you tea, and maybe a crumpet, when the skies up above are gloomy and cloudy.
if that’s the very definition of “very homey,” and i think that it might be, well then, the words on the post-it did make me glow.
and to think that my mama, my mama who spends long hours here two days a week, hours when i’m not here, to think that she’d picked up on that bit of my heart, that one dream that i’ve sought out to catch, well, to say i was tapped on the shoulder, caught by surprise, made to blush, and glow just a bit, that might begin to capture the feeling.
i spend my workdays sometimes talking to folks about houses, how to unclutter, how to appoint. every once in a while, i’m told to gather a page-full of pictures of beautiful things, baubles, or doormats, or pillows. and now, don’t tell my bosses, but often, i couldn’t care less. it’s not what i’m after, not here in my house.
if there is any one thing i’ve worked hard to make here in this house is to make it be a someplace to come home to, a someplace where storms can’t come in, where the tock of clock, or the sharp scent of clove simmering on the stove are the soft things you just barely notice. notice enough to slow down the race in your heart, soothe the jaggedy edge of your nerves.
i want armchairs that hold you in their wings. and blankets so cozy you don’t want to move.
i want logs in a fireplace that crackle. and soft round cookies under the great glass dome on the kitchen counter.
i want neat and clean, yes, but only because i find it calms me. i want bits of the garden on my old kitchen table, even in winter.
i want candles on the table, and i want them most when they’re flickering, casting their soft seeds of light on plates filled with food.
if all of that makes me the poster girl for homey homes, well then bring on the cameras, slap me up on the telephone poles.
because long long ago, curled up on the patchwork quilt of my little-girl bed, daydreaming out a window, staring up through the branches of the oak that framed my view of the stars and the clouds, and mostly the heavens, i knew what i wished for when i was all grown: a wee cottage in the woods where the storybook could end happily ever after.
and my old gray-shingled house, under the limbs of an ash and a locust, it’s the closest i’ve come to that long-ago dream.
it is, at last, my homey sweet home.
what’s your definition of homey home? what parts of your house tickle your fancy, stoke the flames of your heart?