There is satisfaction in making a house a home

Helena Rodriguez

Unpacked boxes filled the house and chaos ruled the roost, but suddenly the sweat and pain of moving into our own place was worth it when my daughter, Laura, looked around and said, “Now this is like a real home!”
Home, sweet home!
I haven’t said that in more than a year.
There are some things in life a person just shouldn’t do after age 30, and at the top of that list is moving back in with your parents, even if only on a temporary basis, like I did.
It wasn’t an ideal situation, but I should count my blessings and be glad I still have my parents. Be glad that the temporary moved helped me get my life back on track, out of a career I was unhappy with and into graduate school so I can pursue a new one. And glad that I have my own pad again. It was humbling, to say the least, but sometimes being humbled is the best thing. It helps you appreciate more of what you do have.
Laura and I spent days packing our belongings into cardboard boxes. When it was over, we filled more than three truckloads. Still, I found myself thinking, “We’re going to need this” and “We’re going to need that.”
We sold most of our household possessions when we moved back to New Mexico from Texas in December of 2003. And then I thought of Jesus and his instructions to his disciples. He told them to carry nothing more than the clothes on their backs to do their jobs. No second pair of clothes or shoes. Not even a staff. He would provide the rest. As I looked at the stacks of boxes, I felt somewhat ashamed. I had to stop myself from wanting even more.
We had to purchase several new things, but we also brought in many of our old things, and our simple apartment began to take on a character of its own as we began filling it with furniture.
We created a sense of coziness and belonging in our humble new home. It wasn’t so much the attractive couch and loveseat we got at a bargain price, but the comfy promise of open conversations and relaxed evenings they would help provide.
Other details started falling into place. We put a nurturing picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe directly above the couch. In the kitchen area, I hung the wooden shadowbox Laura made for me in woodshop and used it to display my sunflowers and rooster collection. And above the kitchen table, I hung the grapevine cross decorated with grapes and wheat that my friend, Mary Reyes of Abilene, Texas, gave me when I lived there. And this past weekend, I placed a proud and extensive display of family photographs across the entertainment center.
Nothing chic. Just little touches to make it our own space.
Once we were all moved in, we celebrated the fact there were now only two people to fight over the shower, but it also took a little getting used to.
We were also reminded as we laid down to sleep that first night that every home has its own symphony of sounds it makes after you turn out the lights. I’m talking about the little things that go “boom” in the night, but not quite so loud. They’re just foreign to you, at first. The sound of a light breeze against the windows. The drafty sound of the heat circulating around the house, and of course, the fact that we were back in an apartment again. We haven’t lived in an apartment in three years. We weren’t really alone, after all.
Part of moving into a new place is also making sure everything works right. It’s not the same as when you do that initial walk-through before renting or buying. Once you move in, other things soon become apparent. You start wondering, “Was that tile like that?” or “Is the central heating working?”
However, one thing I’ve learned about a home, or apartment, is that if the toilet is flushing properly, most other things are probably working OK, too. After all, if a man’s house is his castle, then his toilet is definitely his throne.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at