On Finding Home (Here. Now.)

As we near our one year anniversary, I wanted to write a little bit about nesting. When I first started writing about marriage, I made it clear that I wasn’t going to equate marriage with nesting – because what it with those blogs that turn into records of pillow buying one second after the wedding? I don’t need minute by minute updates of your pillow purchases, thanks. We were, more or less, already nested, and were not planning to buy a house any time soon (down-payments in the Bay Area are regularly in the low tsix figures), so I was going to talk about other things.

But. It’s never that simple, is it?

In the weeks after we returned from our honeymoon, we began to settle back in. The changes were not huge – we had new dishes and pots, we had a few honeymoon souvenirs on the wall, we had a wedding picture or two in little frames, and we had a huge Ketubah on the wall of our bedroom. They were small changes, but it felt like a subtle shift. Our home felt a little more permanent than it had before. It was nice to be reminded of people that loved us, and wanted to help us build a home, each time that we pulled down a plate or a cup. It was nice to walk by our Ketubah and remember the commitment we’d made to each other.

But, the economy, she is a b*tch, and we didn’t get a hoped for sense of the future we’d expected. Normally, when you do really well in law school, you have a bright future mapped out before you well before you even graduate. (Whether your future turns out to be anything like you think it will is another question all together, of course). But that’s not the case these days. So we waited, and we waited, and we waited… and we waited some more. I kept thinking that soon we’d know where the road was going to lead, and we could buy a new couch, or paint the living room, or know we were going to move and make plans. But the future never presented itself. (And it’s not just us… huge swaths of the incredibly talented graduating lawyers we know have no job prospects, and their families are spinning).

So we had two options: keep waiting, or start learning to live with the present. And, um, I’m no saint. So I chose the waiting and whining option for quite awhile. I spent endless emails b*tching to Jamie* about how I wanted to nest, but I couldn’t. I had all these ideas, but we had no idea what was happening next, so how could I do anything? (Poor patient Jamie).

And then this spring something snapped. I can’t put my finger on the moment that it happened, but I was just done. I was done waiting for some magical event to occur in the future that would spell out what our lives would be. I wanted to live now. I wanted to do the best with what we had, to do more with less.

So we re-painted our bathroom, we re-arranged pictures on our walls, we planned to find an affordable dining room table (for our living room, we have no dining room, natch), we bought a new rug, we bought a 1930’s bar cart from an estate sale (Yes. It is awesome), we made plans to bite the bullet and buy a new couch.

And through this process, I realized that this is what marriage is. It’s making a home, where you are, no matter what the circumstances. It’s being home, whenever you’re with your partner. It’s not waiting for the one-days, and the might-bes, and mourning the could-have-beens. It’s being home. Now.

So that’s where I am, a year in. We’re nesting. Finally. We have no idea where the road is going to lead us, or heck, what the next few months will hold. But f*ck it. We have 900 square feet, and hardwood floors, and a phone shelf, and door chimes, and a beautiful 1930’s arch way. We have family furniture, and style, and the ability to re-finish tables. We have each other. So to h*ll with the future, and welcome home.

Picture: Me & the iPhone. This is one of our huppah poles, which now lives on our living room wall. We couldn’t part with it.

*Poor Jamie. Jamie and I like to talk about home design-y things… possibly because she is both an architect and a designer, so she really got the brunt of my complaining.

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  • Elizabeth

    Sigh. I feel I’m in your shoes a year ago. Right now, we’re dealing with clerkship applications and OCI and a whole host of other strategies so Ian finds work when he’s through next year. I’m not somebody who deals well with ambiguity, so there’s a lot of angst…on both sides. He feels the pressure to not only build his career, but from his future wife constantly asking him where we might wind up in 12 short months.

    But I’m tired of moving. I haven’t lived in the same 4 walls for more than a year since 2002. 2002! I feel that same nesting urge; when we went through Macy’s setting up our registry (…I know) I felt I couldn’t ask for anything for our walls or home. Because I had no vision of what those walls might look like down the road.

    Please tell me 3L is a little easier on the partners than the previous two??

    • meg

      I wish I could, lady. Clerkship apps wer BRUTAL in this economy. The job search was BRUTAL. I wouldn’t hope not to move, I’d hope for a job. But you’ll make it through, I swear. Just know it’s hard for everyone right now, and it’s not just you guys :)

      • oh amen sista! what a great post! very well put, as always.

        and, ditto re clerkship apps = rough.

        in fact, my boy is currently in albany on day 1 of The Bar. eek!

        • meg

          DAY ONE OF THE BAR!

          That is all.

          • Sarabeth

            It is also day one of the bar in California this year. Just sayin.

          • Sara

            Day one of the bar was one year ago for me…. Good luck and congrats to those if you taking or supporting a test taker! I know my fiancé didn’t love being my personal assistant around test time, but I still wonder how I could have done it without him!

          • Jessica

            Day one of the bar in Virginia too! For my brother, one of the few, lucky, employed. Bless you, federal government offices.

          • faith

            a little late to the party but the bar was last week in Ohio too and now that it is over I know exactly how you feel, we just moved into a new place (the day after the bar) because my fiancee is a teacher, so I’m making an hour commute to my internship everyday now (because they have already assured me that because of the bad economy, there will be no full time hiring….uggh). but at least now that the bar is over I have more wedding planning, new apartment decorating, and blog reading time! Always look on the bright side…

        • Ahh, the Bar exam is this week. No wonder traffic was such a b*tch getting home from work this afternoon! (I live downtown, not far from where the bar exam is held.)

          Sending good energies to your FH! :)

          • meg

            No, he’s just my husband now. No acronyms ;)

          • Oh, I was referring to Sassy Kathy’s FH, who is taking it in NY … but of course, your husband is taking it in California this week, too! So, good energies all around to all. :)

  • liz

    As the only breadwinner in my house who is hoping and praying for my newly Ph.D.’d husband to get some job — any job — at the moment, this post was a good, swift kick in the a**. You’re completely right. We I should stop complaining / worrying about the future and just make the best of what we *do* have.

    • Oh, do I FEEL YOU. My FH has a PhD in American Lit and Culture. He defended in Nov. ’06, and was hooded in May ’07. He said the listings in ’06-07 (for ’07-08 school year) on MLA totaled about 30 pages, and he STILL struggled. He got a 1 year appointment at a research u* with the “promise” of something more permanent from the chair. That chair was outgoing, however, and the incoming chair had other ideas.

      The following year he had a well-paid adjunct line (well, well-paid for adjunct work, but not really well-paid by general standards) at an artsy liberal arts school. The following year another local 4 year school drafted him on a visiting line (which ACTUALLY paid well). But, the economy continued to tank in ’09, and it wasn’t renewed. For this year’s MLA listings? SIX PAGES. Instead of 30. Stuff that he would normally be at the top of the pile for, he’s now competing with the Ivy League grads.

      He started writing a book so he can stand out in the pack.

      Fortunately, I have a good job. We’re blessed to have what we do. But, it really really sucks to not have the sense of permanency I crave.

      *If he had not been placed at that u, we would not have met as he would not have been living next door to me, but in another city Elsewhere, so there was some fortune there!

      • liz

        I saw my parents (Brit. + American Lit / Poetry) go through the same thing a couple of recessions ago, believe it or not. I wish you guys the best of luck — I know the MLA rat race isn’t fun regardless of the economy. I guess it’ll just take us all a bit more time to find our way, but we’ll get there eventually. For the record, my dad is now a tenured professor (after spending time as a lecturer, technical writer, and city college professor). My mom decided she wanted money, and is now working in copyright law.

        It’s funny — the only reason I even have a job for the next few years is that I am in an incredibly unsexy but necessary field. On the plus side, we met in grad school, so there was a silver lining to it all!

        • I know eventually it will work out. I have an MPA (Master’s of Public Admin), so I can get a job doing what I do just about anywhere. (My degree isn’t recession-proof, by any means, but if I had to move tomorrow I know I wouldn’t have a huge problem finding a job in my field.) In the meantime, I’ve become very active in my professional organization, as well as a volunteer organization that is also national, and have been informally networking like crazy. Because, the likelihood that FH will get a tenure line near where we currently live is very very low.

          • These stories illustrate part of why I’m taking my Master’s in Literature and working as an adjunct while I try to decide if I’m ready for the plunge into the icy waters of academia.

  • Dammit Meg, I did not anticipate crying on this Tuesday morning :)

    Great post. It really helps put things in perspective for me. Our 1 year anniversary is Aug. 29th and we are no closer to buying a house than a year ago, we both want to shift our career paths but there are so few jobs and some days I just want to rip my hair out from sheer frustration of the list of things (I fee like) we need to do before we can do x, y, or z. Now on those days I’m going to read this!

  • I know exactly the feeling you’re referring to. I’ve been freaking out for the past week or two because my fiance just lost his job. It’s hard to look forward to the future when it’s all unknown. Even wedding planning has been depressing for me!

    • Hang in there Ali! My husband lost his job 6 months after our wedding and I *freaked out* (to put it mindly) initially. It’s now been almost 9 months and still no job prospects. Turns out you’ll figure things out and learn to be amazing at budgeting. You’ll realize that this is just one of many hurdles you will face in the length of your marriage – so why not learn to deal with this stuff now? And I’ve learned to see the positive side of things – like how he can take care of the house while I’m busy working 2 jobs. And how nice it is to come home to him here every night, not out working crazy hours and barely having time to think straight. And how he gets to spend all the holidays with me now (he used to manage retail – which meant no Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays with my family… he always had to head back to Chicago early).

      And remember – even if the future is unknown – you always have something to look forward to … because you’re with EACH OTHER! :) That’s the great part. That’s all that really matters.

      And Meg – thanks for this post! I was at my friend’s wedding this past weekend and got to chatting about how terrible I used to feel that my hubs and I weren’t all ‘established’ like my other friends who followed the standard routine: 1. get engaged 2. buy a ridiculously nice house 3. get married 4. live in ridiculously nice house together. I used to feel like if we didn’t have a house we weren’t “married” or “settled in” or whatever… and then I realized I was being an idiot. We had each other and our little apartment in Chicago felt as much home to us as their houses in Wisconsin did to them. (Plus – how irrational was I being…? I just finished school 2 years ago which has left me no time for ‘saving’ money – not to mention houses in WI are like 1/4 the price of houses/condos in Chicago…) Once I got over my crazy feelings I learned to love what we did have even more — our diverse neighborhood, and tons of awesome restaurants around the corner, and apartment manager that can fix & pay for problems we have with our place…. :)

      Plus – what fun are our stories going to be for our grandkids if everything was just balloons and rainbows all the time? My favorite story of my grandparent’s is when they used to live in an apartment together when they first got married and they had no refrigerator so they kept their food out on the kitchen window sill all winter long. :)

      • meg

        I’d rather live in a little apartment in Chicago than a ginormous house in Wisconsin. But that’s just me. And I DO live in a little apartment.

  • Hang on… yes, this is a deep and meaningful post, and I’m sure there’ll be lots of other people to comment on that, but… you say you’re not buying a house, so I infer you’re renting… but you get to paint? and hang stuff up on your wall?! If so, I want to rent in the States! Cos I get to do nothing. No pictures of my beautiful hometown of Wellington, New Zealand that my talented photographer friend took, no changing the baby-puke-cream-coloured walls, can’t even hang up our hammock from our OE to Europe and South America… *jealous*

    Hmmm… did I miss the point of this post? I dunno, we don’t have the nice matching stuff cos we’re still saving for the wedding, but I make post-it note lists of what I like, with pictures of what I like off the net and stick those to the doors of each room so I know that someday this room will include this and it makes me feel a little better about not having the matchymatchy house my friends got on their credit cards… I’ve been flatting for years and moving houses since I was 13 so I’m yet to really have experience a house with a theme and where sentimental items aren’t in a box in the wardrobe marked “sentimental stuff”, so I figure I can wait a year or 3 after we get married to finally have that. Meanwhile, we have furniture my ever-resourceful fiance scored while working as a furniture removalist (people legitimately didn’t want it, so he took it home) and on sale on eBay, so I’m happy :D

    • meg

      We can, yes :)

    • Sarah

      I know, right? From what I’ve seen in my renting history, most places DON’T allow you to paint. Which meant when I signed my lease at our new place and they said we were allowed to paint and hang curtains, I just about wept for joy.

      I moved this past weekend … the walls are lovely and colorful. The boxes? Yep. They’re still packed. You gotta have priorities! ::winks::

      • meg

        Oh, we just forfeit our security deposit if we need to (normally they are too nice to really take it, because they are going to re-paint anyway). If you live someplace for years, it’s worth it to make it your own. And we always stay put forever.

        • peanut

          I totally agree. We’re both grad students and have been renting the same place for 2 years and will be for another 2 years, so we decided it was worth our security deposit to make it our own. We’ve painted some walls funky colors, hung up photos everywhere, changed the hideous drapes. Home is really where you decide it is, ya know?

    • liz

      haha, some apts allow it- but you usually hafta change everything back to white and plaster up the holes and blah blah… i’m lazy. so WE live in a white box.

      • Haha, fellow lazy, white-box dweller here!

        We’ve lived here 3 years now, and I’ve always wanted to paint the walls kooky colors. But we’d have to paint them back to white afterward and that just sounds like too much work — especially since we are kind of hoping to move soon(er than later).

    • Shoot. Thanks for the reminder… we are thinking of moving to a different neighborhood where we can get more bang for our buck… but this just reminded me – we have to paint the apartment back to white if we move! Painting that one wall in the kitchen brick red is not looking so smart right now… lol Maybe we’ll just stay here afterall. :)

      • Sarah

        Grab a can of Killz and do it in one coat.

        Seriously, the stuff is miraculous. We covered a deep navy blue wall in my best friend’s apartment (stupid previous tenant!) with one … and you really couldn’t tell it had ever been there!

        • AWESOME! Thanks for the tip Sarah! :)

      • Zeke

        I did something similar as an accent wall in my ‘office’ to one of my previous apartments… a bright ‘Mai Tai’ red (thank you Ralph Lauren paint – great color, bold statment). Kiltz didn’t work in one coat as I had once hoped, but a trick I learned halfway through my second coat – have the primer tinted in the opposite direction on the color wheel, a green would help and lessen the number of coats you’ll need.

        • Sarah

          Hmmm …. maybe that explains why we had such good luck with covering the navy wall … the can as it came was slightly off-white … just enough yellow to balance?

        • Ahhhhhhhhh…. duly noted. Smart folks! :)

  • The Mr and I are in a similar predicament at the moment. We are both SOOOO ready to move out of the apartment we’re currently living in and start looking for a house to buy or at least rent, but as of August 28th, I have no job. We knew this was coming, but it still is tough when we both have big dreams and plans… and we’re living on a tight budget. But, like everyone else, we’ll get there eventually.

    And good luck to your hubby on his bar today!


  • :)

    If there were a “f*ck yea” button, I’d totally click it. You go, Meg.

  • elyse

    LOVE the chuppah pole!

    it is so nice to pick out pieces of our home together. we moved to a new state after the wedding with a car full of wedding gifts but no furniture, and while frustrating at times with all the waiting and feeling unsettled, it is such an amazing thing now that we’ve started filling up our place with our things, pieces of real furniture that we know will be with us for many years. next up is getting artwork and what not up on the walls, can’t wait!

  • I (like the first poster Elizabeth) have lived in five different places in the last year. At my mom’s for 6 weeks, teaching at a summer theatre program, one apartment in France, a different apartment in France, a summer sublease in Illinois, and now we JUST signed the lease for a new apartment which we will have for 13 months. I am so excited. We are painting, knowing full-well we might be out of there in a year. We are garage sale-ing, we are getting our kitchen stuff out of storage. It feels so good. But sometimes I feel like it’s silly to be spending all these hours painting and arranging when so soon, our dishes might have to go back in storage. But I’m so glad to see this today, to remind me that we need to live in the present.

    And as the ever-wise Oogway the Tortoise says in Kung Fu Panda:

    Quit, don’t quit? Noodles, don’t noodles? You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the “present.”

  • Carbon Girl

    Thanks Meg for sharing this. This economy sucks, and I guess its nice to know we are all in relatively the same boat. Lately, I am having a hard time explaining my feelings on this to my mother. All the uncertainty about the future, if jobs will be there, if they will ever be as easy to find as they once were, if we will ever buy a house. Its hard to talk to my parents about this because they and many of their generation did not experience this. Many of them knew that their future would be better than their parents experience, in the economic realm at least. I think we are coming to a paradigm shift though. One where our success will no longer be measured solely in terms of money. Coming to grips with the fact that we will never be as well off as our parents (due to our career choices and the fact that the world has changed) was hard but also freeing–freeing from expectations, freeing from needless stuff that often comes with expendable income. We know what our priorities are and we will live them, economic success or no.

    We just started saving for our dream vacation, which perplexed my mom who thinks we should be saving for more traditional things. But it just hit me this past weekend . . . why does our dream vacation have to be this way-off intangible thing?

    • Anna

      I had fun explaining to my mother why I was hell bent on having my few precious bits of art framed as soon as the offer was accepted for our house. She thought I should have other priorities 63 days before the wedding with one income and a new mortgage. I disagreed. Things are compromised enough right now. We decided that having our art protected and respected behind real frames was going to let us feel like we were putting our ideal foot forward. Its such a stupid silly thing but as I unpacked them yesterday both the Mr and I were like ” oh, man those look so nice! They make the house feel like it is ours”. It is the little things!

  • my husband’s a lawyer, looking to transition out of corporate law firms. just not for him.
    into his email an amazing opportunity NOT in nyc where we currently live, but hours away, end of the line city on the east coast.
    when discussing whether or not he should apply, “it was well we love nyc! there’s no where else we’d want to live!” but then it’s “oh, not sure if we could afford kids in the city”.
    we could sit around for years wondering where we’d go next and not be happy with any of the choices, and maybe not even that happy where we are. so, we are going to see what happens- maybe it will take us on an adventure, but we’d be actively living.

    i look around our 384 sq feet, loving our tiny home in the west village. loving the space we’ve created together and the life we share. and we are a family no matter what space we are living in. we’ll have our art and our books, the things we love, but what matters to us is the love in those four walls.

  • liz


    you know i’m in the same boat over here. 4 degrees+ between the two of us, and nothing in sight.

    but josh is amazing in saying, “how bout now?” whenever i bring up, “someday.” and that’s pretty awesome.

    i’ve so quickly learned the positives about not having the cash to “settle in,” that i almost have gone in the opposite direction- i hope we never settle into adulthood, comfy paychecks, careers, a house… i hope we always have a worn futon and thrift store dishes and a car that doesn’t start on the first try. it makes the littlest things such luxuries. and life is always, always an adventure.

    (i also think we were all lied to. remember when you were told that the key to an awesome career and brilliant future was an education? EFF THAT. )

    • Alyssa

      (i also think we were all lied to. remember when you were told that the key to an awesome career and brilliant future was an education? EFF THAT. )

      *sigh* Preach it, girl.

      • liz

        kinda sad that’s coming from a high school teacher, no?

    • I couldn’t EXACTLY this one enough times Liz – so I’m writing it! :) Exactly!!!!

      I am almost scared for the days we have a house and have ‘settled’ because I’m afraid we might not feel like ‘us’ anymore. All we’ve known of each other is living in crappy little apartments in Chicago… eating out at BYOBs… complaining about parking and public transportation… and having to lock ourselves up in the only room in our place with a window A/C unit (our bedroom) when it gets super steamy outside… all the things that used to drive me nuts – now that we’re married make me smile. Plus – they will make for darn good stories some day! :)

      Also – I love your husband “how bout now” comment – I’m going to remember that one! :)

      • Christy, I spent years in Chicago and I just had to “Exactly!” this cause I can totally relate. Haha, your comment just made me smile and I wanted to tell you! :)

        • haha! awww – thanks Jenny – glad you enjoyed it! Anyone who has lived here knows the city definitely has it’s negatives along with the positives! lol :)

    • Seriously, the education gods are still taking my money…and I can’t afford a crappy apartment.
      Is there something wrong with this picture?

      • Kat

        I hear ya!
        I’m in my 8th year of tertiary education. I’m sure my husband, who had the sense to stop after four will make much more than me. As will our friends who all did 3-4 year degrees. Plus they all have 3+ years of job experience now and I have nothing.
        Definitely eff education. A PhD is so not worth it.

        • meg

          As my parents always say, you do a PhD for LOVE not for MONEY (because you don’t tend to get the money back when you count in the years off). So, remind yourself why you’re doing it again… because you love-love the work, right? That’s a pretty good reason.

        • Liz

          yep. still getting my PhD.

          but not for a job/better paycheck.

          because that crap is false.

    • My husband has a high school diploma and makes faaaar more than I ever will with my useless masters degree. I work at a university, and still sometimes I’m like eff education- go spend your money and your reading time on something more worthwhile.

    • liz

      Brilliantly put.

      We have 7 degrees between us and exactly 1 short-term job to show for it. I’m starting to think we would have been better off traveling around the world for the last 6 years. But it’s all ok… The lack of funds has introduced us to our local auction house, which is, as it turns out, is full of characters AND awesome, absurdly cheap furniture to boot.

  • Lisa

    Oh yes. My husband and I have four housemates. One of the most frustrating questions for me during wedding planning was “So, are you guys going to like…move out and get your own place?” NO! We are not. We aren’t for probably a long time. Boston is pricey, roommates let us live in a really nice house, and do you know how much we pay in rent? It’s like $600 a month. I’m leaving my cushy job in a month to finish school and there’s just no way we could pay more for rent on top of all our other expenses in this case.

    While I do daydream about decorating my future house in a mid century coastal style,

    • Lisa

      Whoops, cut off too soon.

      Anyway, yes, while it would be nice to be responsible only for ourselves, it’s just not going to happen now, and I’ll be damned if I waste my time whining and leaving passive aggressive notes about the house whenever my housemates don’t rinse their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher or leave a pan on the stove for days. On Offbeat Bride Ariel has mentioned wanting to talk more about creative living spaces, whether it’s shared apartments, yurts, single family homes, whatever. The “American Dream” of the white picket fence, four bedroom house in the suburbs just isn’t applicable for many of us anymore. And you know what? My husband is not a lawyer. I’m a student, studying Spanish and immigration. These things probably aren’t in our cards.

      But could we buy a communal house with friends? That’s a possibility. We just need to get some perspective and not be afraid to think creatively. Anyway, I’ve had that Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes song stuck in my head all summer- “Home is whenever I’m with you.”It’s truer than ever, whether we’re living in an RV, an apartment stuffed full with six people, or a single family home in the burbs.

      • Camille

        We’re in the same canoe, I think! For the past 4 years we’ve been living in a sweet little two bedroom apartment with our roommate – a girl we met in school – and it’s funny how people assume that such an arrangement is only suitable prior to our marriage. They also told her that it was a bad idea to move in with a couple, but people have a habit of being wrong.
        Families come in all kinds of wonderful forms, and the three of us are certainly family now.
        (not to mention the rent is lovely and perfect – 230 each for a pretty safe area of downtown! Now we can afford to be artists!)

        • We’ve spent the last year with our long time roommate and it has been mostly fine – until he got engaged. You see, we can’t stand her. We figured that he would move out and we’d pick up the extra rent and life would go on. But. The wedding is in September and he hasn’t moved out yet. They haven’t moved in together yet. HOW DO I GET RID OF THEM???
          Seriously. She’s evil.
          I very much feel intruded on in my own home AND I can’t nest. My husband is overly patient with this, plus he will be losing a video game buddy when the day finally comes, so he’s not helping.

    • Olivia

      We’re trying to find roommates to move in with and nobody even answers our emails. And that’s of the postings that don’t specify “single occupant only.” Apparently people don’t want couples as roommates.

      • Alexandra

        Well, we [a couple] want another couple as roommates! All we ask is that they be chill and stable…

        (Okay, we ask a lot of other things–but they are reasonable things!)

  • Sarah

    This exactly sums up what’s been going on in my head the past few days. In preparation for our wedding, I moved into our new place this weekend (I will NOT be unpacking when we’re supposed to be honeymooning!). Two big lessons were learned:

    1. If we keep waiting for the “right time” for something (in this case, buying furniture) it’s most likely not going to happen. Sometimes you have to just do it and rejoice in what you have. We were nudged into this as I got caught (with a majority of our old furniture in an open bed truck) in the torrential downpour that took over DC Sunday afternoon. Nearly all the bedroom furniture was destroyed. It has become necessary to purchase the new pieces, as opposed to something we want to do “someday”. A decision we should have made for ourselves in the first place … I guess we were just getting a kick-start. =)

    2. Sitting on the floor yesterday working on finishing the baseboards, I looked around and was overcome with the feeling that I was creating a HOME, not just a new place to sleep. I just about broke down sobbing with joy and hope and …. yah. Small as it is, with boxes piled up, no furniture, and un-finished paint on the walls, it’s ours. There’s definitely a joy in that realization that cannot be explained. =)

    • McPants

      OMG, Sarah, you were moving in *that* storm?!? Holy shit. I was only driving home and I had to dodge like 4 downed trees. Gah, I wish I hadn’t just given away my bedroom furniture, b/c I’d totally be offering it to you right now. I just wanted to say wtg on seeing that as an opportunity instead of a tragedy. That’s a pretty huge deal.

      • Sarah

        We were about 10 minutes from being done when the clouds rolled in. In fact, we’d been complaining about the heat all day! It was bright and sunny when I headed up stairs to do one final sweep. When it made it downstairs again (about 3 minutes later) it was POURING. Thank God I have a couple awesome friends who were trying desperately to save things (and they succeeded on a few items!). 2 minutes later we all looked like we’d jump in the pool.

        To be honest, I was pretty upset about it at first. But I realized pretty quickly that there was NOTHING I could do about it. Cue calling the fiance and saying “So…. that happened.” He, luckily, was very calm about it, too.

        Thank you so much for the offer, even though it can’t work! It means a TON.

        • ddayporter

          ahh man, Sarah, that really stinks (hello understatement). I was out of town so I missed the storm, heard it was ridiculous. yay for optimism and new furniture! :)

  • Beautifully put, Meg. I have been thinking a lot about and doing research on the concept of “home” over the last year or so. And I just finished my second move in 10 months, but we should be here at least a year. Hopefully more. Though we are still surrounded by boxes and not yet settled in, we are slowly getting there and it does feel fabulous and exciting to be creating the environment where we live together in this first joint apartment. Though I know “home” is simply being with my husband (wherever we find ourselves!), these last two moves have showed me the extent of how much I personally find comfort in the actual physical aspects of “home” and how much, for me, the physical is connected to my emotional sense of belonging. And creating that space somehow makes me feel like I am contributing to developing the idea of “Our Home” and what that means to us, even if we move next year and even if we never own a house.

  • Alyssa

    I had a minor freak-out when the Boy said he wanted to move when our lease was up in June, because when we moved into that apartment I made him promise that we wouldn’t move again for a while. Because I wanted a HOME, not another place to stay while we tried to figure out where home was going to be. And because I’d moved 8 times in the last friggin’ 6 years and I was TIRED.

    But we compromised (after yelling and generally disliking each other for a few days) and it worked out; we got a bigger place for less money, which is always good. But I’m not moving my big butt from here until we have to or it falls down around my ears. We’re making it our HOME, dammit.

    And I’m completely jealous of your 1930’s bar cart. I had to fight the Boy on getting bedsheets in something other than beige or khaki, I can’t imagine getting something that awesome unless I snuck it in the house myself…(which I’m totally not above doing.)

    • Erin

      Hahaha. My boy still thinks that baseball caps on top of the bookcases count as decoration. It’s kind’ve fun, though, when I do sneak something in or change the furniture and he says, “Hey, THAT’s a good idea!”

      • meg

        Yes. I suppose I’m lucky like that. David has *at least* as good taste as I do (plus he’s handy). He was the one who INSISTED on the bar cart. He was like, “I mean LOOK AT IT! It’s ours!”

    • liz

      i snuck in a bookshelf… and then made it a bar. it was a trojan horse kinda thing, ha.

      • Josh pouted and pouted at a thrift store until I told him it was okay to buy this hideous mirror art from the 70s called “Orbital Fantasy.” It’s pretty ugly, but kinda cool in a “if I have to look at this damn thing every day I’ll learn to love it” sorta way. It looks like someone took a Spirograph to a mirror, took lots of drugs and went to town. I only agreed that we could buy it since he lets me decorate our apartment with doilies crocheted by my grandma.

        • liz

          haha- josh’s idea of decoration is a row of his action figures (yes, ACTION FIGURES) lined up on the bookshelf.

          • Oh, yeah. We’ve got the Incredibles and the Iron Giant and Iron Man as well, scattered throughout our bedroom in very prominent places (read: hanging from the overhead lighting). I’m just taking deep breaths and rolling with it. :)

          • future Emily P.

            I’m super behind on this, but I just had to say you aren’t the only one! My fiance has an entire (wall-sized) bookcase in our office filled with toys! I had to cave to that to keep them from encroaching on the rest of the house.

        • liz

          oh, and? ugly art.

          it’s a running joke that he brings home something, and i say, “oh. that would look great hanging in the closet.”

          • Alyssa

            DUDE. I adore my overly masculine man, but I have a saddle, cowboy hats, spurs and assorted Aggie paraphenalia in my house.


            In his defense, they have all been functional items at one point in time, (the saddle is his dad’s first saddle from when he was a kid) so at least it’s not just decorative country chic.

            But they’re friggin’ spurs.

  • Well, I’m a future lawyer (I think) but maybe I can dream that things will be better in about 4 years? Ah well, who knows – I am on this path now. But more closely related to the point of this post, as a military spouse, I can relate to the home, now, feeling! We just moved into our first apartment after getting married, but we will be here for only about a year before we move again. Unpacking and repacking just has to be something we do every so often (though we do at least get help moving from the military). As I make this apartment homey, knowing it’s only going to be for about a year, I realize I just have to accept that and think of housing as even less permanent than many people do. I will just make each home as homey as we can, and as our needs and our family grow and change, our home(s) will slowly transform. Then maybe someday, after the military, we’ll actually live somewhere more than 3 years!

    I guess the point of yammering on about my own situation is that I can relate to the idea that it can seem silly to “nest” in a place that doesn’t feel permanent – but you just decide that homey for now is good and go ahead and do it!

  • Erin

    We moved into our first shared apartment two weeks before our wedding. I moved from a city to the rural burbs, 5 minutes from the ocean. And I love it here. I never want to move out of the little town we live in. Never ever ever. But houses here are EXPENSIVE, as in the area is bleeding young professionals because none of us can afford to live here. Sounds familiar, right?

    I get all choked up and desperate when I think about trying to buy a house, now or ever. How will we afford a down payment? How will we pay off a mortgage? How will we grow our family if we need two incomes just to pay for a place to live?

    Posts like this are good reminders that life happens now, home is where you are, and even though things are different than we expected, even though the future isn’t all mapped out for us like we comfortably assumed it would be, we have everything we need to create this new adventure as we go, .

  • Anna

    My husband and I pseudo eloped in january just months after having an emergent move from our sold out from under us rental. I am currently the noncontributing (financially speaking) student with only mere weeks to go before our wedding and my graduation (contingent upon my National Registry Exam held three states away seven days before my wedding). About 5 weeks ago we recieved the letter informing us our current rental was going on the market. Our heads spun! What the hell?!
    Long story short… Yesterday we recieved the keys to OUR house. Our families rallied behind us and helped us scrape together a down so we would “never have to do this again”. I read and re-read the post about the hard stuff as we struggled with closing and with eachother at times. It would seem you were/are right Meg. The hard stuff can be what binds the book of your lives together. It may sound crazy, but every time we struggled (especially with one another) and didnt choose to be mean or spiteful , no matter HOW tired or ovrwrought we were, it made me feel more secure in our vows to one another. I feel like making a home and the ups and downs, the elation and the dissappointments, is not just in paint chips and furniture but is in the way you chose to wrap your head around all of it with your partner. Buying a house and moving were the LAST things we envisioned ourselves needing to take on durring the controlled chaos of this summer yet, I’ll be damned if leaning into it for all that it has been wasnt the most binding act of us to our community, our families and to one another. The struggle has been worth it.

    • Sarah

      “Yesterday we recieved the keys to OUR house. Our families rallied behind us and helped us scrape together a down so we would “never have to do this again”. ”

      Alright, this actually got me crying. How amazing and wonderful of your families to rally behind you!

      Congratulations on the house!! May it be filled with love and truly become a home! =)

  • Michele

    My husband and I bought a house in January and literally every single person we told would volley back some variation of “congratulations on your first home!” and you know what? It kinda itched my bitchbone. Sure, this is the first house we’ve OWNED, but it is NOT our first home. Our first home was that quirky little 800 square foot apartment on the second floor of an old Victorian that we lived in for three years. THAT is where our love blossomed into plans for marriage, where we began laying the plans for our lives together, where we became each other’s family. I LOVED that apartment. I love our house too, but I MISS that apartment on a pretty regular basis, and sometimes catch myself thinking about how some garage-sale find would fit in perfectly there, even though we don’t live there anymore.

  • Kristina

    This post reminds me of a song… have you heard of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros? They’ve got a song called “Home” that I LOVE –



    • Michele

      love, love, love that song.

    • Elizabeth

      we played this at the end of our wedding ceremony! happy song!

      • Anna S.

        Ah! I was just scrolling through to see if anyone would mention this. This became our wedding anthem, and is now taking a prime spot in our musical history, just behind our o.g. song, “You Were Always on My Mind” (the Pet Shop Boys version).

  • Jennifer

    We actually have just bought a house together (don’t look at me like that, we are older and I have been salting away a down payment fund for the past dozen years), and it’s our first home together… but the house we bought? Is his childhood home, still full of all his mother’s stuff. I knew the process of turning that into *our* home was going to be a slow and difficult one, but oh man, it’s different to know that intellectually going in than it is to actually live it. And right now, of course, funds are a little short from making that home purchase and from preparing for the upcoming wedding (yay, lots of people are coming to celebrate with us! but alas, that means the bar tab is going to be higher!) and it’s easier sometimes to just live with what’s there.

    This post is inspiring me to go ahead and get started. At the very least, putting away the old lady knicknacks in the attic? That’s free.

    • ka

      Do it, Jennifer! It will feel so good when you do, for both you and your fiance. I’m also sloooowly converting my childhood home in OUR home for 4 years now on zero dollars, and it has been, wow, one hell of a process. Thank you for mentioning what it’s like to be on the other side of this, I’m going to give my fiance an extra enormous hug tonite for being so patient and wonderful and supportive throughout the whole process.

      This post has reminded me that home is now, not tomorrow, and it’s important and I’m grateful that I have one (especially one that is legally, financially and emotionally OURS)! It’s really only recently that I’m forgiving myself for this process taking 4 years, when all I really [think] I want to do is fix it up and rent it out, so we can travel the world. But when you add sentimentality to stuff, it can have a crazy powerful hold on you that takes time to work through. And while I’m working through it (quite literally – we have an entire bedroom of floor-to-ceiling “stuff” from 3 generations of family), it’s ok to paint and decorate and buy that furniture that we don’t know if we’ll be able to take with us at some imaginary point down the road…

  • Ugh, Meg, stop it with your knack of writing posts that make me cry first thing in the morning. Having moved every summer for the past 6 years, my mantra had become “travel light, travel light, travel light.” Last night I was packing up some boxes of books to store at my parents’ house and wondering bleakly when I would ever have all my shelves in one place again and would it even be worth it to try to cozy up our new apartment with the ugly wood-panel walls since we’re not planning to stay there for more than a year either. J. and I have had a couple, erm, impassioned debates too regarding whether or not it is responsible for us to invest in good furniture now when we are living on my stipend for the foreseeable future.

    So, this post. Full stop to my whirlwindy thoughts. New thoughts to mull over. (Thank you.)

  • “to h*ll with the future, and welcome home.”
    oh, hell yeah.

  • Margaret

    Yes yes yes. Our apartment is far from ideal. It is 600 square feet which was fine for me but crowded for two people and we have way too much CRA. The carpet is getting grubby, the caulk in the shower has failed and it’s mildewy, and the bathroom was inexplicably painted using matte paint and therefore gross at this point.

    But. It’s cheap. It’s convenient. And I have the kindest landlord. So we’ve got a plan to fix things up, involve the landlord where necessary, jettison what we don’t need, repurpose furniture, sew new covers for my ratty sofa, and make better use of the limited space that we have. I’m sick of living like we’re going to move anytime.

  • This post is really comforting. I’m an obsessive planner, so I like to know *exactly* what’s coming my way. When that’s an impossibility, I have a great deal of trouble embracing the, er, adventure. Something about change and the unknowable turns me into this morbid, hyper-emotional stress mess.

    So the fact that the end of the fiance’s PhD program will mean moving to god-only-knows-where? The fact that we’re at the mercy of the job market? Yeah. It freaks me out. And not just because I’ll miss DC (though I will…terribly). In actuality, it’s because this impending change underscores the transience of our little life together, both in DC and, well, in the world.

    That might be a totally crazy thing to say. Whether it is or it isn’t, I certainly appreciate the reminder that I should be doing my best to live in the moment with my partner; that I should try to see our life together as one continuous, lovely thing, and not as a series of goals and deadlines and scary changes. It requires that I re-conceptualize my idea of what it means to be home. And that’s a very, very good thing.

    • mere…

      I’ve been sitting here feeling like this post was written just for me and wondering how to respond. I feel like Mejane read my mind exactly!

      Just this weekend I moved for the 8th time in 6 years while my boyfriend of 3 years followed a job to a town 2 hours away. Two months ago we were minutes away from signing our first lease together on rental home before the owner decided to sell instead. We had already told out apartments we were moving out and were leaving town in 2 days for a week vacation. We had to scrap all of our “perfect/things are finally working for us” plans and come up a plan B. We decided to save money on a small, crappy apartment together and I was honestly so excited at the thought of our little, miserable apartment because it would be OURS. One month later he was offered a job two hours away the day AFTER I had accepted a new job in our current city. Which brings us to this weekend where I moved again to somewhere temporary.

      It’s hard watching so many of my newly married friends jump into houses and mortgages (and I have to ask, how are they affording this?) while I drool at Crate&Barrel catalogs and Sherwin Williams commercials. But this site is so encouraging to remind me that even if I’m not in my perfect little house (or a house at all for that matter), I can still have a home. And to remember that it’s much more fun to be excited about getting to come home to someone I love than it is to worry about whether my end tables match my coffee table.

  • wow. you like, didn’t really bitch at all. which makes me think you are like an amazing, unwhiney person. (not that I thought you were otherwise.) so this popped up in reader and all i saw was the top of the photo and it was very confusing, like a blogger came in and took a picture from an odd angle in my living room without me knowing it and posted it.

    good on you, finding home now.

  • Michele

    For those who feel like the “next step,” or “progress” (be that buying a house, starting your own business, having a baby, or whatever the case may be) are way, way off in the hard to imagine distant future, let me tell you a story:

    In October of 2007, my (now) husband and I bought a new (to us) used car. A great, 5-year old, good shape all around new-used car. It was due for a round of routine scheduled maintenance, which to my horror ended up costing $1100. ELEVEN HUNDRED! That wasn’t even a repair of any sort, just regular old 80k mile “maintenance.”

    This development led to my husband and I’s first MAJOR fight, and to-date, it remains the worst fight we’ve ever had. I had a full-on, irrationally screaming, sobbing into a pillow meltdown that scared the shit out of both of us (because I am typically a very level-headed, pragmatic person who rarely loses her cool and/or cries over shit that is totally out of her control). But this time, I did. Big time.

    At the root of this meltdown was a sense of complete hopelessness about our financial future, the feeling that we would NEVER get anywhere, because where money was concerned, for every step we took forward, we seemed to take two steps back. I grew up in a very poor family where money was scarce (and financial savvy scarcer), and I felt DOOMED to repeat my parents’ mistakes.

    Three years later, here we are. We bought a house in January, have more money in the bank than I thought possible in the midst of that meltdown, and I’m finally in a job where I feel like I am compensated fairly. There is still much work to be done – my husband isn’t particularly happy in his job (but at least he has one), and while I’m finally happy with my paycheck, I’m ambivalent (at best) about my work. But I’m hopeful and I know from experience that the train rolls on and life won’t always be like “this.” There are more jobs, more homes, more dreams, more plans in store for us. We’ve just gotta make our way there.

  • “Act upon this land as for years”

    I could’ve spent all of my 20s waiting for my life to begin. Waiting for the right man to come along so I could get married and start living. Instead I chose to live right where I was as if I’d be there for ever. So I had a career. I did graduate school. I changed careers and did more graduate school and moved. I traveled. I dabbled in community theater. I learned to belly dance.

    And eventually I did meet someone. But I’d spent those years “waiting” being productive. And I loved it. And at least I can look back over the decade and say that I’m more than just ten years older and still in the same place. I’m ten years older and I made a good ten years of it.

  • I owned my home before I met my husband. We lived together in it for a few years before we got married. Through those transitions it slowly feels more and more like HOME (all capitals). It is never the furniture or any of the other stuff that makes it a home, it is the memories attached to the things.

    And Meg, we have wooden pieces from our wedding on display too. To anyone else just a piece of wood, to us, HOME.

  • I think we had a similar realization a month ago, when we decided to re-sign our lease for the next two years. We have an amazing apartment and an amazing price in a great neighborhood. We worked really hard to make it a home (and the non-white walls and hardwood floors definitely help), even though we always thought it would be temporary. But when J got laid off last year, I guess we made our home in each other. We stopped thinking about far off futures and houses (because we don’t really have that six figure downpayment either) and we just nestled into each other.

    We recently had to move out of our apartment for a month, and it was hell. Absolute horrific hell. I just wanted to go *home*. To the place where we’re already planning where to hang the ketubah and wedding photos and which we keep incrementally sprucing up with “new” Craigslist furniture. To the place with our now-garden and now-photography and now-life. And it feels like the most solid thing we have in this crazy insecure world. Even if we’re renting, it’s the first place that’s felt like home since childhood.

  • This is such a welcome post. We moved back to the countryside earlier this year, to a place that will be our rented home “until baby number two is on the way”. There’s not even a twinkle of baby number one yet, but you know what I mean. I’m starting my own accountancy practice; he’s just qualifying – it’s a weird world and the idea of committing to a mortgage makes me feel unwell.

    Our often-criticised-by-design-bloggers new-build is filled with old furniture that we’ve scavenged from our parents’ houses, and I’ve just ignored it in favour of dreaming about the rectory/farmhouse of the future and how that will look. But… It’s going to be our home/my workplace for some time, and it’s about time I manned up and treated it as such. We could probably buy somewhere if we stopped going out and taking holidays, of course, but I just get “no pockets in shrouds” jumping into my head everytime that thought crosses my mind!

    Maybe nesting is like having kids – there’s never a right time; you will never have enough money. You just do what you can, and that’s more than good enough.

  • merryf

    This post really hit home for me. I’m 45, new husband is 40, we got married last month — and on Dec. 31, he lost his job and is still unemployed. I have always made a small salary, which is normal for my industry, but hard when you live just outside NYC. I’ve always rented, and struggled, and put money away for retirement and investing. Now after almost 20 years of that I’ve got enough for a down-payment in this area. BUT — my new husband has almost no savings any more after paying alimony for years to an ex, (no kids) and using much of what was left for our wedding. (Which we paid for in full, we have no debt.)

    We moved in together in April 2009 and spent that year getting to know each other 24/7 and planning the wedding. It was fine but now I’m itchy. So many people in our age bracket have owned a house for years. I don’t know how or when we’re going to do that. We look at our finances, and we both get upset, because the money is going down, and I just don’t want to touch “my” money that I’ve put aside for a house to use for rent. I have dreams of having a house with a garden, and he has no job, and I just don’t know when I’m going to get there, if at all. At this point I need to start thinking about putting more aside for retirement, not for the now.

    So I get sad because I think, when does my Now start? I spent my 20s and 30s saving money to go on vacation , and I traveled the world, and then came home to my small place, wherever it was. I was happy doing that but in the back of my mind I was always Waiting for the Rest of My Life to Start. I understand deep inside me that I will never make a lot of money. I will always have just enough, but never more than that. It just is so hard to watch the years go by, and to keep saving and saving for Someday, and it never comes.

    Our 1,050-foot apartment is nice, and in a very nice apartment building. When we rented it, it had been gutted and renovated and we are the first to live here in what is essentially a new place. It should feel like home, but all it feels like is Intermission. We put things on the wall, and we’ll be hanging our Ketubah tonight after work, but it still feels temporary. We received some lovely wedding gifts — but I was so careful not to register for anything big since we don’t have a permanent place to put anything. We’re in the process of downsizing now, and donating all our previous housewares to a nearby homeless shelter, and maybe that will help me to feel less overwhelmed, and start to believe that a home is not one you buy, but one in which you feel safe to come back to.

    • Class of 1980


      Your post stands out for me because I will turn 52 next month.

      What about thinking outside the box? What if you bought a house and got a housemate to help with rent? Perhaps you could look for a house with an apartment attached. Later on, you might not need the housemate.

      I think my life is unconventional for my age and who cares?. I have a successful at-home business and live with my business partner. We have rented three very nice homes in nine years. Two of them were brand new homes that were never lived in. With all this moving, I made an effort to make this current rental more of a home than I did before. It has made all the difference in my outlook.

      Last week, our landlord dropped by and said he hoped we would resign our lease next year. The next day, he dropped by again and said he’d been offered a deal that he couldn’t pass up. So, our lease will be up in February and we can stay until June.

      I was getting itchy to explore some other towns in the area anyway, so I am happy. Rents here are ridiculously low post-bubble in this area and owners want to make deals. I’m thinking of looking for a lease-purchase. I’ve rented two homes that many would consider dream homes only to find out the annoyances of the homes from living in them. Life inside a big new house isn’t always what you think it will be. Beautiful neighborhoods aren’t always what you think they will be either. Leasing gave me the chance to “try out” different lifestyles and different towns.

      I don’t want to own a house just to keep up with the Joneses. The Joneses bought at the height of the bubble and are stuck. Our friends now envy our mobility. Contrary to what real estate agents tell you, renting is not necessarily throwing your money away (research it).

      The only reason I want a house is for emotional reasons. But would I actually BUY a house with my business partner when either of us could meet someone and get married in the future? If I want to live in the “NOW”, the answer would be “Yes”.

      I’ve even come across a “house” that consisted of two cottages on a lake connected by a catwalk! Sounds perfect. I think we could figure out how to get what we want now and take precautions for the “what ifs” that might happen later.

      Meg is right. If you don’t make a home “NOW”, you will live a life of constant frustration. I know, because I tended to do that when I was younger. So much of life consists of small moments. Why not at least look at pictures you love and surround yourself with your favorite colors while living those moments?

      And if you really have your heart set on a certain living situation, try brainstorming to see if there is an alternative way to make it happen, even if it means getting a housemate or two for a while. In this economy, there are going to be more quality roommates available.

      • merryf

        Thanks for the thoughts to consider. I think what really gets me is that I never thought it would be this difficult. Well, I never thought I’d get married to begin with, so I never considered that “my” down-payment money might have to be used for someone else or that I’d have to consider someone else when I made future plans.

        We started talking the other day about where we would move if it was possible. That is, maybe somewhere else would be more affordable than NYC for us. Our lease is up on April 1 and that’s a long time away and so many things can happen before then. Hopefully he will get a job. My parents are Depression-era babies so I grew up knowing the value of being frugal and delayed gratification and saving for The Future. 99 percent of the time I just don’t give a crap what other people have or don’t have, but it’s that 1 percent of the time when I just start to feel like the little delayed cousin in the corner.

        I am happy with my new husband, wherever we live. I guess that’s the most important part. Well, keeping the space cleaned up is pretty important, too.

        • Class of 1980

          Well, consider moving to the southeast if you get the chance. What you get for the money would make a New Yorker faint dead away. Funny thing … I live in a small town in the mountains and my closest neighbors are from New York. She lived in Manhattan. Turns out the Catholic church they go to here is chock full of New Yorkers. ;)

  • KristieB

    We are moving to a brand-new city, leaving our home of (a combined) 6 years, our awesome jobs, and both of our families because D’s company is offering him shares and a new position (but no more money). Right now, he has the choice to not take this offer and no longer have a decent paying job or to come up with money for the shares. As a newly married (and ridiculously broke) couple, we need to come up with lots of money to buy said shares. This means the money we’ve received as gifts from our parents (and other lovely people) to buy the home I really really want is going towards shares that may or may not be the worst decisions of our lives. So, I’m stuck renting until we can save up all of that money for a down payment ourselves. This is after taking all of our savings for a house and getting married.

    I really wanted a house. A little place where I can paint the walls whatever colour I want. A house with a fenced yard so I wouldn’t have to go out in 30 below to walk my dogs in the winter.

    I’m learning (slowly) that home is where your family is. Family being me, D, the dogs and our lizard. Home in a tiny, expensive rental house.

  • I think we all dream about our perfect homes as we imagine our futures with our new families in mind. Some people can afford to run out and get that right away, but the majority of us cannot. I know I start many fantasies with “when we have a bigger place with a dining room and more cabinet space, we can get a food processor and throw fabulous dinner parties… ” but the reality is – we can (and will) do that now. And no one will care that we only have 4 real chairs when you don’t count the two still wrapped in plastic waiting to be re-upholstered as soon as we find the perfect fabric, or that even if we had 8, our table stuck in the middle of the kitchen due to aforementioned lack of dining room will only comfortably seat 6 anyway. You know, if the food tastes good, you can sit on the floor and eat it just as happily provided you’re in great company.

    And the plus side is – “We literally don’t have room for that” is a compelling argument not to buy stuff we don’t actually need. [Uh, so that ice cream maker attachment I just ordered for the Kitchen Aid? Totally going on top of the fridge with the rest of my baking-supplies-that-don’t-fit-in-our-kitchen.]

    This post is an important reminder to live in the now, and make our home/life wherever/however we can RIGHT NOW, as we work towards what we want it to be someday. Together.

    • That reminds me of our last dinner party – half of us were sitting on the floor (no room for a table or dining chairs either), and we ran out of knives so most people were trying to cut meat with spoons. It may not have been easy, but it was definitely fun!

  • peanut

    Honestly, buying a house seems like a distant dream to us right now; like the way getting married did when I was 8. Sometimes I get bummed out that we’re almost 30 and know for sure we will not own anything of value in the near or even mid future – but then I remember that a) we have each other and our health, which are invaluable, and b) since we’re starting at “the bottom”, we’ll extra-appreciate anywhere we go from here. I am not gonna lie, I can’t wait until we can eat out without checking our bank account first or we can buy an “out-of-budget” item without discussing it at length, but when those things happen it will be awesome.

  • Marta

    Love, love, love the huppah pole! I will follow your lead and try my best to remember to take little pieces of the big day home with us.

    For me, the nesting is what I crave right now. I am sooo ready to turn our grad-school decor style into a modern, clutter-free, and dare I say it, “30-something” way of living.We’re planning to move soon after the wedding and I hope we can be settled by the New Year. The idea of snuggling on a comfy couch and drinking hot cocoa on a blustery wintry night sounds like heaven to me!

  • Sara

    This post is Good Stuff. And it’s applicable to more than just your physical home. I find myself saying, “oh, I want to do X, but I need to wait until Y happens to start. . . .”

    And you know what? I don’t. I can start making the home/life/whatever that I want, now. Waiting until Y happens is no different than saying “we can’t get married because we don’t have money for a big wedding.” Well. Maybe you need to change your preconditions. It’s just the shift to figure out how to start from Where I Am instead of starting from That Starting Line Over There.

  • Kashia

    Meg I loved this post. And then I looked around my cute 450 sq ft apt and realized that we’ve nested. Even though we are moving next month, even though we’ve only been here for a year. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I have moved pretty much every year of my life, and sometimes more often. (24 yrs old and I’ve lived in 24 different houses/apts). So moving that much I guess I was predisposed to “nest” Even if it wasn’t for long, setting up everything just right so that it feels like home while you’re there… it’s a forced habit of adaptation. But even so, I still feel like I’m waiting for the future in a lot of ways. When we have a house of our own… When we have the money to own furniture we like, not just what was given to us by our families…. When we “grow up”…. but I think maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way. Because yeah, it’ll be nice when we have more money and our own place… I don’t know about the growing up bit, but I think I need to focus a bit more on the now anyway, and look at how good we have it now, and how nice we can make things look for really cheap and how lucky we are to have the ability to make a home together. That our friends and families still love us even though we can’t invite all of them over for dinner at the same time.

  • Erin B

    I’ve been reading APW manically for the past week, ever since discovering it. Here I am, less than 2 weeks before the wedding, and this post was EXACTLY what I needed to read this morning. (But of course it is!) My fiance and I are facing two years of long-distance commuting (across the country, that is) that will begin right after our wedding, and I’ve been trying not to think about how we’re going to maintain our sense of home and family during that time. (We live together now, and I am quite attached to our house and routine. Who knew?) The idea of home as something that you carry between the two of you, not a place in and of itself, is comforting. I also like the idea of literally carrying something from our wedding from place to place–even if it’s just a sign from the dessert table that I cart from a cabin in Oregon to an apartment in Boston every 2 weeks! (Well, hopefully I can find something more meaningful than that…)

    Thank you for this post.

  • When I was married before, owning a home and moving up in the world, so to speak, took on a huge need. I spent hours and days and months pouring over home decor magazines, HGTV programs, catalogs, window shopping, and home “making.” We bought a house, we bought another, we bought a third. All of this nesting was really my attempt to “make” a happy home.

    When we got divorced, we had to sell the house. I still miss it sometimes, but not nearly as much as I thought I would. Truth be told, it turns out that I like renting. I don’t feel any need to spend all of my time fixing and sprucing up and decorating and cleaning. I’m happy not to be burdened with home repairs and taxes and insurance. Now, I go home and play and snuggle and cook and eat and enjoy my time with my fiance and my kids. The difference is that before I was working hard to make a house feel like a home, and now my rental IS home.

    My fiance, who has lived most of his adult life in San Francisco, has never owned a house. It is much more important to him than to me. I like our little rental house; it’s where we live, and I love our life.

  • Jackie

    My FH and I bought a row house in DC a little over a year ago. We went ahead and bought it because its huge (2,000 square feet), but it was completely let go. The house was an estate sale, and it hadn’t been lived in or had utilities hooked up in almost 2 years!

    Needless to say we are having to gut the entire thing. Fortunately, my FH knows how to do everything: plumbing, wiring, building walls, etc. because we do not have the money to hire anyone to come in and help. However, it takes soooo long to renovate! We lived without a kitchen for the first 5 months, and didn’t even have a bathroom for the first two weeks. Now that we are about a year and half into it, we are still living in a total construction zone. The walls are down to the bare studs in places, and plaster is crumbling in others. We haven’t even done any work on it for the last 4 or 5 months because we have been planning the wedding (coming up in September).

    Sometimes, I just have to sit down and cry because I want a finished home so badly with walls and closets, and I want to be able to decorate and paint. Most of our knick-knacks, books, and art have been boxed up since we moved in! This post was an excellent reminder that we WILL one day have a finished home and that we are lucky to have one another. I should just decorate the studs while we save up the money to finish!

    • Sarah

      Let me know when you decide to! I’m always down for some creative decorating! =)

      Gosh, I’m looking forwarding to meeting you all in September!

    • meg

      Dang though. That kind of sounds like our dream. GUTTING A ROW HOUSE? Sign me the h*ll up.

      I know. Cara, over at P&P who is doing that right now thinks I’m nuts. But then she always sighs and says, “But with your energy and crazy, that probably really is your dream.:

  • LPC

    Beautiful. And I love the huppah pole. It’s gorgeous.

  • Marguerite

    I bought a home a few years ago because it’s what you’re “supposed” to do and promptly learned that I LOATHE being a homeowner. There are real down-sides to owning and real benefits to renting. American culture is fanatical about home ownership and I’ve learned the hard way that that’s a load of BS. Different things are right for different people.

    Today’s post was much appreciated. My partner has been unemployed for most of this year. Most days I’m resentful of having to support us, and I spend so much time wishing he’d gotten more education and that he’d made more conventional choices in his life (even though the courage to make those unconventional choices are one of the things that drew me to him.) It’s good to be reminded that there are no guarantees in life, even if you make all the “right” choices.

    • Class of 1980

      So so true.

  • TNM

    Yes to Meg’s post – but coming from an opposite perspective.

    We bought a house recently – shortly after we got married. Hafta say though it’s a huge pain in the a**. Turns out home ownership is a lot more maintenance and stress and repairs, and much less design and HGTV and pillow-acquisition. Not to mention a possible financial fiasco. We’re fine with owning, but I would go back to renting in a heartbeat. (And keep in mind, me & my husb lived in a 300 sq foot NYC studio for a while so I know of what I speak…) I thought being settled would be necessary to feeling like I was “at home.” Turns out feeling at home is indeed entirely a state of mind. One that – for me – has had zero to do with home ownership.

    • Class of 1980

      What you wrote can’t be said enough.

      No matter how much time you spend finding the perfect pillows, artwork, furniture, etc … it’s NOTHING compared to how much time you will spend maintaining everything!!!

      I’m looking at the coolest shower curtain on earth in my bath right now, and all I can think of is the mildew that’s suddenly appeared on it that I need to get to. Ditto all the other beautiful things that need cleaning. ;)

    • I couldn’t just exactly this, because it is SO TRUE. My (now) husband and I were booted from our unbelievably perfect rental two years ago, and when we couldn’t find anything even close to comparable to rent, we decided to buy. We started looking for a house to buy in late June, found one in mid-July, Jeff proposed on August 1, we closed on the house on August 14, and we were married the following August 9, and our one-year anniversary is in two weeks. To the person above who asked how people were affording to get married and make down payments all in the same year, my answer is that it totally sucks and I would never do it again (and Jeff has mused the maybe it would have been wise to propose a few months or a year after we bought a home).

      Buying a place for us was really for investment reasons- now our savings that was getting taxed the hell out of was turned into a down payment and is in our house. But honestly? If I could give it all up and go back to that little rental, I would do it in a second. It was our first home together, and I still miss it.

      Buying a house isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. And it is certainly not worth waiting to start your life for!

      • meg

        Yeah. Did I fail to mention I love renting, for all the reasons just mentioned. I do. We could buy *something* right now, but eff that. We’ll buy something eventually…. hopefully something nicer, and um, later.

        • Class of 1980

          And when you look back years from now, you will be glad that your memories are of a place that you personalized.

          I know so many people who’ve built mega homes and look back with longing at a smaller place they used to own. The first place we rented here reminded me of a forest camp. It was rustic and imperfect, but we look back now and miss the simplicity of it. I considered not decorating it that first Christmas, but decided life was too short. I ended up cutting Hemlock branches and improvising a Christmas decor that took my own breath away that first year. And I’ve NEVER been able to recreate it!!! But I have the memory of it. And I only have the memory because I chose to live in the “Imperfect Now”.

        • I am with you Meg. I am a big fan of renting. For me, buying a house feels too permanent. I am not ready to lay down those kinds of roots. I have wanderlust and itchy feet. I also like not having to be responsible for yard maintenance or things that break.

          Now buying property abroad? That is my dream.

    • peanut

      This is an interesting comment, because to us owning a home is the type of commitment that you have to be ready for – kinda like marriage. It’s actually a running metaphor for relationships in our group of friends; like renting is dating, and “when you’re ready to buy” it’s marriage. I mean, you gotta put a lot lot lot of work into maintaining the house (like a marriage), and getting ready to buy is overwhelming (like the engagement period), but the rewards in owning a permanent home for your family to grow in is worth it. I think this is why so many couples are itching to buy a home as they get married; they’re just ready to make their lives more permanent. Or something.

      • Class of 1980


        I agree. It’s smart to think of buying a home as a permanent decision. If there’s one thing the housing bubble should have taught everyone by now, it’s that houses are not liquid assets. You can’t always count on being able to sell them when you NEED to.

  • Class of 1980

    I am currently reading “HOUSE AS A MIRROR OF SELF: Exploring the deeper meaning of home” by Clare Cooper Marcus.

    It’s fascinating. APW readers would love it.

  • lacey

    This post reminds me of the song “Naive Melody” by the Talking Heads (which we are going to dance to at our wedding in a month :). “Home, is where I want to be, but I guess I’m already there….” Great thoughts.

  • Carrie


    Thank you so much for posting this! I have been struggling with this for sometime now but have continued down the wait and wait some more path and having difficulty getting out this rut. My partner was laid off 20 months ago and still has not found a permanent job with no prospects in the near future. He is a landscape architect and those jobs seem to be the first to go these days. We’ve discussed moving somewhere else (we’re in a rural area) but decided to ride it out because he doesn’t want to move far away from his son and I love my job and really, we’re making it just fine. But…I constantly torture myself with the what-ifs and could-have-beens and we could do this, this, and this to the house if only he still had a job. This post was a good slap in the face to stop my whining , start living, and be thankful for what I do have. The future will always be uncertain. I need to focus on the here and now. We do have a great home and it’s ours. It might not be where we want it to be right now but we’ll get there eventually.

  • Ok, I admit I didn’t read all of the 96 comments before mine (maybe more by the time I finish this comment), but first of all I love this post.

    And second of all, I don’t think it’s just marriage that means being finding home. I know this is a site about marriage and weddings and wifeness and all of that, so of course it’s geared to that and you know that I love you.

    But as a single lady, finding home where I am (and that changes a lot, since I’ve lived in four states and two countries in the last ten years for school) is a big part of just being an adult, whether I’m in a relationship or not. I had to realize that I couldn’t listen to all the voices telling me my life wasn’t real until I was married (and I know that’s NOT what you’re saying), especially after my relationship ended so abruptly. I needed to do just what you and your husband did: find my home here and now, wherever that may be, even if life before PhD graduation seems like a holding pattern. Being home with your partner, yes, yes, yes, I love this idea. But more important than that, to me, (obv, since I don’t have a partner) is being at home with myself.

    Good luck to your husband on the bar, btw!

  • Is purging your home of all extraneous crap nesting? :) We’re headed for our one-year, too, and it’s like we piled the new stuff on top of the old and never really made our house into our home. We’ve lugged stuff from our college years, from our first-job years, and from our living-together years… pushed together, mismatched, unused-but-good-but-collecting-dust, etc. Along came the fab wedding gifts that our families and friends piled on us. And suddenly, there was a need for cohesiveness. Just a small symbol of us instead of me + him + dog + stuff. We did buy new pillows (eep!), only because the dog has spent years flinging the old ones around. Getting rid of all of the unused stuff, saving some momentos, and unifying the space. Even though Dan and the dog have always been there, having a unified and organized space to call ours has been awesome. We, too, have been waiting for that magical moment… especially since I’ve been doing nothing but standardized testing since the wedding, working on med school apps, and doing a million extra little things to bolster my application. Dan didn’t want to do anything to change our living space because he wanted to know where I was going (if I got in) and wanted a place that he knew he’d be at for a while. And I got tired of that wait-and-see attitude. It started with a new bookshelf, some closet reshuffling, a helluva lot of freecycling/Craigslist, and now we have something a little more fresh. More importantly, it’s a space made for both of us to live while we wait, instead of just waiting.

    Best of luck to you and David! The waiting is hard when you’re the applicant, but I know that it’s been harder on Dan. Especially since he knows that med school’s competitive, so we go wherever the acceptances are and it’s not up to him or me. I chose that, but he didn’t and I can’t tell him enough how much I appreciate him coming along on this crazy ride.

    Btw, I’m a very longtime lurker. I had so much so say and never enough time to write a thoughtful comment or letter. Thanks for everything… your blog kept me sane throughout the wedding-planning and early marriage because, sometimes, it felt like you were the only person who actually understood what I was feeling.

  • We didn’t wait. :)

    Getting married coincided with us finding a gorgeous little house with a garden (A GARDEN) to rent that we knew we were likely to be in for a couple years (a luxury in our nomadic, follow-the-jobs lifestyle), so we started nesting after a fashion from day 1. We were both *home*sick, I think. And being surrounded by the beautiful and generous things our family had given us when we wed, the process was started without us, anyway.

    Now, we’re moving house again, this time into *our own* place. So there’s no plan to unpack for ages, the first priority is making the space really, truly *ours*. Even though we know it won’t be our forever home, and we’ll be moving on in a few years, still. All we have is now.

  • Yes yes yes. FH and I are “nesting” with what we have. We’ve gotten a ton of lovely gifts from the shower, and we’ve started weeding through our belongings, merging it together, getting everything straightened up. Our living room is still a little discombobulated, but I feel better about our space here than I have, well, ever. We ARE building a home with what we have, and I love it.

  • As always, Meg is at it with the timely posts. This as I’m sifting through some boxes that my parents dropped off (they’re downsizing, so no more using their basement for storage) trying to get rid of as much as possible. Eric and I will be moving (internationally) every 2-3 years for the rest of our careers (at least, as long as I have my current job). We could put off nesting forever, especially as many of the places we’ll live will be furnished to some extent. We could have left our current rental walls bare, because we’ll be leaving in a few years. But even if we never have a family home that we live in for our whole lives, we’ll have our art, our photos, our silly tin owl, and each other.

    I am, however, writing this while sitting on a 17 year old, very hand-me-down couch that has belonged at various times to 4 different family members before coming to us. That needs to change soon.

  • Nicole

    I feel like this goes well with last week’s post on recession weddings. I want to “Exactly” this whole post just like that one.

    J and I got together New Year’s Eve 2009, and almost immediately began to talk wedding dates. Then, starting in February 2009, we had a combined 14 months of unemployment. He bought a ring with his very first paycheck in a year, proposed in May, and we began planning a November wedding.

    For the first few weeks of our engagement, that sense of future you mentioned wasn’t there. Then, I, too, said f*ck it. It’s not perfect, we’re still not at 100% employment, we don’t really know what our near future will be, but damn it, I’m tired of waiting. I want to be married to this guy, and I want to do it now. 2010 it is.

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  • my husband and i have been living in our 600 square foot condo for almost three years. two humans, a golden retreiver, three bikes in the living room and a king sized bed in the bedroom that you can hardly walk around makes for a VERY cozy home.

    but we have learned to flourish here. and in a lot of ways i am happy for our small space. it forces us to face each other. it has taught us to stay clean. it fosters my strong belief that arguments shouldn’t be walked away from (because we have no place to walk to). it also allows us to be physically near each other, and be ok with that. there is no sitting in the den working on the computer. we are literally never further than 15 feet away from each other if we are in our home.

    i also love that someday we will look back on this point in our lives, when we were engaged and newlyweds and we lived in the smallest home imaginable. i’m not ready to move anyplace bigger. i like the physical closeness our home forces us to have. and i also love how we can both deal with it, i worred at first that it would be too much, too stressful, too much of a test of our ability to be together. but as it turns out, its perfect. we don’t “need our space”, we “need each other”.

  • Laurie

    I’m happy you had a turning point in your thoughts. I have been married 26 years, and the same thoughts go on at this point, not so much about nesting, but just getting on with what you can do and making adjustments in wants versus needs. Making lemonade instead of sour lemons! It is fun to see what you can come up with while spending very little. My parents refinished antiques in their day, and now I have wonderful pieces of their past frugality. I hope to pass on my refinished treasures to my kids someday.

  • MWK

    Oh dear god, do I know the waiting feeling. D and I spent the last year both hoping to finish degrees and knowing we were moving, either across the country or OUT of it, and it was so so hard. [We had white walls and beige carpet, for christs sakes!] I get the feeling that you and David both had an idea where you wanted to be, which is good, but it is so, so hard when two people with their own ambitions and desires are planning an uncertain future as a unit. It drove us (mostly me) batty. All the time. For a year.
    But we have landed right where we needed to be with only a few compromises that had to be made, and now i feel so, so lucky. We also just got an awesome vintage couch as our first new-place purchase (renting as well). I am slowly letting myself believe that we are here for a while. In fact today that “Home” song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros came on the radio today and I sang and cried like a nutter in the car, because it is so so true.

  • I had the same reaction. This spring, I wasn’t getting any job offers. I had been on 7 interviews and there was nothing. So I snapped. I realized there was no knowing, there was only the reality, which was: I didn’t have a job, and we had outgrown our apartment. So we hunted and we found a new place and we (he) moved us during bar review and I studied to try to guarantee at least some kind of future. Three weeks ago we found out half his office is getting laid off, so there is even more unsureness now.
    But we have a new apartment together, and it hasn’t solved anything except that it has given us something new and fun to do. I’m excited, now that the bar is OVER, to make it our home and all I can tell you is that for sure, one day, we will move out of this apartment and into another or into a house.
    As they say, the only constant is change. I’ll take it.

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  • This is almost 2 years after this post, but I’ve been reading the archives oldest to newest. I just wanted to say that this was really really really important for me to hear. My future husband and I are moving in a couple months so I can get my PhD. Right now I own our house (bought be fore we were together) and I’ve worried about how an apartment may feel/be temporary for our first year of marriage, and how that might affect us. This is such a good reminder that we make a home with the ones we love, not with our surroundings.

  • Emily

    Maybe this is ridiculous, but I am experiencing this from the other side. I wanted to be married before buying a house, and through a random series of unexpected events, we are buying a house (closing on it tomorrow!) with our engagement pushed off somewhere on the horizon.

    In my mind, I had a timeline of my life – not necessarily about WHEN, but moreso the chain of events. Date, get serious, move-in, get married, buy a house, get a dog, have a child, continue to be happy. It was a natural progression in my mind. The commitment of marriage was supposed to come before the commitment of a house. That way, we’d be a “unit” going in on the house together, with our matching last-names on a custom plaque in our front yard.

    While we did go in as a united force, and we found our perfect starter home, and there really is no difference between getting married first or not, it’s just messed with my brain a bit. And it’s caused some awkward conversations where people ask “did YOU buy it? Or did you buy it together?” as though we are not a real couple/it’s their business/it matters.

    So when do I make that custom plaque for our front yard? Do I want ’til we get married? Do I pretend we are married?

    We’re still picking out paint colors, remodeling the bathroom, and buying rugs just the same as if we’d be married… so it doesn’t matter. I’m blessed to be in this situation. It’s just an interesting challenge to overcome this mental expectation, you know?