A Temporary Goodbye to “Magazine House”

There is a state of cleanliness and organization in my house that I think of as “magazine house.”  I love reading magazines about home decorating.  Actually, I love looking at the pictures.  Whether or not I would want that particular style in my home, I love seeing pictures of clean, shiny floors, perfectly strewn throw pillows, and perfectly made beds.

My own home reaches “magazine house” status when everything is put away.  Who knows what you would see if you opened a closet door…some seasons are better than others for the “inner organization.”  But if my house is 10 minutes or less away from being ready for company, it is a state that pleases me.

Everyone is different.  Some people thrive on clutter and randomness.  Cluttered space makes me anxious.  “A place for everything, and everything in its place” makes me feel calm.  Waking up to a clean kitchen makes me feel prepared for the day.  Coming home to a clear coffee table and dining room table makes me feel welcome in my own home.  It’s not about being ready for unexpected company — that’s just a side perk.  It’s about taking care of myself.  It’s about waking up sick in the middle of the night and knowing that the bathroom floor is a perfectly acceptable place to lie down, because it has been recently cleaned.  It’s about how when one day gets away from me, or even several days in a row, there will still be clean dishes in the cupboard and catching up won’t take long.  It’s about having a space where I feel welcomed and nurtured, even if I’m the one that made it welcoming in the first place.

In a few weeks, I will be moving to a new apartment.  (Literally, a new apartment.  The building was finished less than a year ago, and I’ll be the first tenant to live in this particular unit within the building.)  I’m so excited about my soon-to-be new home, excited to find what “magazine house” will mean for me there.  This move is my version of “buying a house.”  I don’t want to buy a house.  That’s a topic for another conversation.  This apartment will not be a means to an end, but my home for the foreseeable future.  So, for this move, I chose an apartment based on the life I want to live, not the cheapest apartment I’m willing to inhabit.  It is bigger.  It has an open floor plan, windows on three sides (technically…I’ll explain with pictures later!), a laundry room.  It has a kitchen big enough for me to invite my entire family over and let them help with the cooking!  It has a den.  And get this…it has 1 1/2 baths!

Only God knows what the future holds.  I’m trying to get better at living in the present moment, without dwelling on the past or obsessing over the future.  And I chose the new apartment based upon what I want, now, in this season of life.  It was time to choose a home in the same way I want to live:  Living life now, not waiting for something else.  This will be my home, the one I chose for myself and created for myself.  If someday it is the home of my husband and I, fine, but I’m not concerning myself with that right now.  I could even imagine bringing my first baby home there, but again, that has no bearing on my choice now.  I can’t possibly know if or when those things will happen, or where I will choose to live when they do.  I’m choosing for me, and for now, and it feels exactly right.  It feels heaven-sent.

I’ve moved quite a bit in the last ten years, and I know that a few weeks before a move, I start feeling anxious.  I’m feeling that anxiety set in.  The symptoms are strange:  I water my plants a lot more than usual, I watch a lot of Friends and Dharma & Greg, and I read books I’ve read a hundred times.  In other words, I crave things that are familiar and will never change or leave me.  My plants are living things that I take with me from home to home.  I know exactly what will happen next when I watch familiar TV shows and read familiar books.

Because, in the last couple of weeks before a move, “magazine house” disappears.  Shelves are emptied.  Boxes get stacked up in corners. Pictures are taken down from walls.  It gets worse before it gets better.  Even when I move into the new place, it will take awhile before I find exactly where I want to put all the furniture and hang all the pictures.  I am probably enjoying my last weekend of magazine house for awhile.  It will be SO worth it.

But I think I’ll go water the plants one more time anyway.

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