A few weeks before my husband and I were married, we signed a contract to live in our first place together. It was a tiny, 600 square foot, single bedroom apartment. When we moved in we were so dirt poor we purchased a table but couldn’t afford the chairs. As a poor student and a starving artist couple, we didn’t even have the funds to finance a couch. Luckily, we found one in a neighboring dumpster. We cleaned it up and proudly placed it in our living room. This was our first home. This apartment was our dream home.
Our first apartment was my dream home because that’s were Aaron and I spent so much time together as newly weds. We learned how to live together, we learned that marriage is compromise, we learned that marriage is work, but the absolute best kind of work. We learned to lean on each other when school was hard, when work was hard, when life was hard. That 600 square foot apartment was filled with a lot of love. And love is what creates dream homes.
Our next home, from a strictly material perspective, was a major upgrade from our first apartment. Aaron was fresh out of school. We had a steady income and were able to rent a beautiful home in a lovely neighborhood. I thought it was the greatest accomplishment that we could afford to purchase a couch rather than dumpster dive for one. That home was also our dream home. In that place we decided it was time to expand our family and have our first child. We experienced the excitement of a positive pregnancy test there and nine months later brought our first born home from the hospital there. We also experienced our first reality check of parenthood being equal parts demanding and rewarding in that home. I learned that parenthood would require so much of myself that I lost myself in that home. Luckily I quickly rebounded and found a better version of myself once I adjusted into my role as a mother there. In that home we learned to be strong and strength is what creates dream homes.
Our next home was surprisingly a down grade from our previous home. My husband decided to pursue a speciality in his field, which meant we traded our financially comfortable lifestyle for a financially frugal and humble student lifestyle again. We moved into a small 900 square foot house far away from our families. This place had crooked floors, a kitchen so small only one person could fit in it at a time and barely functioning appliances. That home was our dream home. I watched in awe as my husband accomplished his dreams, came into my own as a mother and expanded our family from three to four there. In that home I learned that happiness is a state of mind worth fighting for and happiness is what creates dream homes.
I remember the morning we moved out of the crooked floored, 900 square foot Kentucky house clear as day. I sat at the front window and wept like an inconsolable child. I was so sad to leave that dream home. That teeny tiny, barely functioning house was the host of so many tender, beautiful memories for my little family. Just like all of our previous homes, a piece of my heart stayed there. Luckily, at this point I realized a house and a home are two completely different things. A house is basic shelter: a mass of stucco, brick and concrete. A home is the heart and soul of a family. And that dream home I had spent so many years tirelessly building with my husband and my children would follow us wherever we went because homes, unlike houses, are intangible. Homes are the memories and love we happen to create (oftentimes) in a house.
This weekend we closed on our first house. After more than a decade of intense schooling, hard work and a lot of financial sacrifice, we finally have a space to call our own. We are thrilled to build a space of love, strength and happiness and to create beautiful memories within the walls of our first house as owners.
My husband and I were talking over minor cosmetic changes we would like to make to transform the new place into ‘our dream home’ the other night. But I quickly realized non of these paint colors or floor finishes mattered because we’ve had the dream home our whole marriage and what we have created and built as a family was bigger and better than anything any architect or contractor could build.