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January 2nd, 2004

No Place Like Home

The Restive Nomad Buys a Townhouse (with Multi-Paned Windows)

 
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Everyone expects black balloons and wise-cracking cards once your birthdays celebrate passing the age of 30. No one, however, mentions an unexpected perk: kissing those carefree, post-college days goodbye.

Contentment . . . what a concept
It’s not that I was unhappy in my youth. But now I can admit I was restless, a heat-seeking missile constantly searching for some elusive target that would radio back “Ding ding ding , this is it!”

But just what was “it“? A glamorous job pulling in big bucks? Living in a trendy loft in the city? Or was”it” a husband, kids, and a home in the ‘burbs? Maybe “it ” was a career as a globe-trotting journalist, or a Peace Corps volunteer in the Congo. Or perhaps I was meant to be an entrepreneur with my own bakery or bookstore.

Since I wasn’t quite sure what I was after, I kept up the search—anxious and unsettled, often frustrated, sometimes satisfied, and wholly convinced that Madonna was living the reality I was meant to enjoy.

Home sweet home
Then a couple of years ago I bought a townhouse, a modest type of place where not Madonna but maybe one of her personal assistants might reside. For me it was perfect. Bursting with old-time charm, it had hardwood floors and multi-paned windows with a spectacular view of grazing cattle on a nearby hill.

It looked more like a country cottage than the cookie-cutter condo it really was.

An added bonus was that the homeowners’ association didn’t have pet restrictions. This meant I could finally get a dog. And with my new home and adopted ex-racer greyhound, Elvis, life slowly started changing.

Repotting instead of plotting
Instead of dreaming of trips to Tahoe or dining at ritzy restaurants in the city, I now spend weekends gardening while Elvis basks in the sun. I spend more time at Home Depot than at Nordstrom, more concerned about fertilizer than fashion, molly bolts than makeup.

I now take pleasure in the simplest of activities: planning a Sunday brunch, cutting roses from my garden, grooming my dog.

No longer do I feel the pressure that MTV and fashion mags once imposed upon me to keep busy having fun fun fun 24/7. Currently, “strenuous activity” will consist of scratching the dog’s belly with one hand while reading Nick Hornby’s latest with the other. Or I’ll watch the Godfather marathon on American Movie Channel, or simply nap in a pool of sunshine.

Cleaning occupies much of my time. Hardwood floors and dog hair: need I say more? I mop and dust and clean, but gladly and without complaint. I am grateful for this little patch of the planet that is my home.

Sometimes friends and I will walk our dogs to the farmers’ market, where I buy honey from local vendors and sunflowers that can stretch three feet high. Other weekends might find me with Elvis at nearby street fairs, volunteering at the greyhound booth.

When it’s in your own backyard
It’s not like my social life has come to a complete halt. I still attend concerts, enjoy the theater, frequent art house films, dine out, travel. But in the back of my mind, no matter how good the company or how great the time, there remains one joyful thought: I can’t wait to return home. To my modest little world and the dog who is such an integral part of it. And suddenly a stint in the Congo or life as Madonna doesn’t sound quite so appealing anymore.

Because “Ding ding ding—this is it!”

 
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The Author : Eileen Mitchell
Eileen Mitchell writes from Northern California.
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