Life has some elements that feel uncertain right now; mainly the house we rent is for sale, so we need to find another place soon. This can be a real challenge when you’re looking in a certain price range in Topanga. The idea of not knowing where we are going to set up our stuff and call “home” is still uncomfortable for me sometimes.
By the time Collin and I were 23 we owned a gorgeous, yet cozy house on a beautiful, wooded property with a tiny stone wall out front that enclosed a grassy dell. I thought we’d raise our kids there one day. This day. I thought we’d be there this day and all the days when Senya was learning to talk and when we brought Juniper home from the hospital. I thought we’d be having family birthday parties each year and celebrating the passing of time in that same home.
But life doesn’t follow the script we write. It doesn’t always follow the trajectory of our hard work or dedication or carefully calculated choices.
Some things fell apart there (think jobs, think real estate, think crooks disguised as property managers stealing your rental income, and so on and so forth), and so we had to change our course.
Collin assures me he isn’t lost when we are hiking. Ever. Even when he doesn’t know where we are. Once we set out from the frontier town of El Chalten (kind of like Topanga in Argentina) into the Patagonian wild. After hours of hiking, I started to realize that we weren’t on a trail, and he confirmed that we had gotten off trail at some point. Of course my vivid imagination immediately flashes to our two skeletons—hand in hand—discovered years from that moment, and he knows this look on my face. So, he assures me, “we’re not lost.” “But we aren’t on the trail” I argued, “So, we’re lost.” And then he goes on to explain things about the sun and the shadows and the water and the westerly winds or whatever. “I’m never lost because I can see where I am in reference to things bigger than the details of my exact location.”
So here I am living in a house we rent in Topanga with all the quirks that are standard for a rental in Topanga (including but not limited to a shared mailbox, power outages with nebulous causes, squatters who sneak into other neighbors’ houses and use their showers while paying tenants are out, and of course the occasional unidentifiable yet horrific smell). And we are not on the trail. Sometimes we see the look on each other’s faces and we know we’re wondering if we are lost. And then I think, “No, we are not lost. We are not on the trail, but I can use the measures of love, and flourishing, and laughter, and creativity, and connection, and meaning, and hope. In the bigger context of what matters most, I know where we are. We aren’t on the trail, but we are not lost.”
Here in this life Juniper Sky is running wild through the wind where a creek meets the ocean. And here in this life Senya runs barefoot through the dirt and onlookers smile in appreciation of her untamed childhood. Here Collin runs miles in the mountains and goes on playdates with the kids. Here we have friends who understand us and share the same perspective on reality that we do. Here we are more than how we do or don’t make money; we are valued for our ideas, our creativity, our interests, who we are. Here we share in each other’s lives, we live in intersecting spheres, we are not so divided by gender, by division of labor, by income.
And I’d love to be able to draw a circle around our life and make it out of stone and call it home forever. But for now, home is not a monument; it’s an experience. It’s when our hearts are connected and we find meaning together. It’s when we do highs and lows at dinner time and report to each other the best and worst parts of our days. It’s playing hot lava and jumping from sofa to sofa and on coffee tables and swinging from hugglepods to avoid the fiery magma that is the living room floor. It’s Thai-day-Friday family-movie-night or camping under the brilliant stars in the desert. It’s sprinting down Topanga Canyon Boulevard because we’re running late (literally) to school again. It’s finding miner’s lettuce in the park and calling that the vegetable for dinner tonight. It’s sharing experiences and meals with friends and family, and keeping close in our hearts those we love that live far away. And it’s engaging again and again through the pain, the beauty, the triumphs, the failures through the gains and the losses and the day to day. And in these hearts within my care, I hope I’m laying a foundation made of more durable and precious stuff than any building made with stones and bricks: hope, resilience, worthiness, joy, wonder, and most of all love.
May we all find home wherever we are.