My family moved quite a few times when I was a kido. I distinctly remember that every time we moved I immediately began to look forward to our next vacation or extended time out of the house. Why? Because I knew that the true test of a new house becoming a home was the homecoming. Time and time again I would hate a house, feeling out of place and uncomfortable inside it. And then after a long trip or unexpected vacation we would return to our new place, usually late at night, wearied from the journey, ready to hop into bed. As our car pulled into the driveway a thrilling relief would flood over me: I was home.
So it is, homecomings are the test of homes. I had a lovely time in America. Of course, it whizzed by faster than imaginable. By the end of it I was tired of all the busy and ready to get back to ‘normal life’ in Cardiff (Did you see that? NORMAL LIFE and Cardiff in the same sentence!).
As my coach approached the city I shivered with a surge of excitement. My fingers shook. Would Cardiff pass the test? Would it feel like home when I returned?
The bus dropped me off in a part of town I’d never been to before, but after asking someone where the Royal Music College was, I knew exactly where I was. I took a short cut through my favourite park and soon found myself (and my big purple suitcase) on the streets surrounding my university. It felt pretty special, walking home all on my own, knowing exactly where I was going. I mean guys listen, I didn’t just know the way, I knew three ways back to my house and had to mentally calculate which one was the most direct with the least amount of pulling my ginormous purple suitcase up and down stairs and/or over train tracks.
As I took a shortcut through the alleyway around the bioscience building, I remembered all the sweet bible studies I enjoyed in that building last semester. As I passed the Costa Coffee I remembered tea and coffee dates with friends.
Across the train tracks I found myself in the student accommodation district. Despite the fact that my hands were raw and blistering from pushing my overweight suitcase over the uneven sidewalks, I couldn’t stop grinning. I was back on my daily route to school and it felt so natural. I’m back in Cardiff a few weeks before school starts, so the houses were abandoned. The strange silence on the streets made the perfect backdrop for my memories to dance about.
My road is not primarily student housing, so as I turned onto it the street reawakens. Cars, busses, pedestrians, cyclists… all the usual subjects rushed past. And then there was me and my big purple suitcase, standing in the middle of it all, drinking it in.
As I approached my own home, I noted warm lights glowing in every window except my room at the very tipity top. I am not disappointed. I am home.
So my advice to you is this: if you ever move to a new place, unpack your bags, organise your life, and then (as soon as possible) take a journey. Go far away. Have adventures. And then when you find that you are utterly exhausted, return to your new dwelling. That, in my experience, is the surest way of realising that your new house is a home.