There is a spot where Witter Gulch switches back beneath an Aspen grove, and the light filters through the trembling leaves in the summer and fall, the bare white branches in the winter. It is the same light I found in the secret corners of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park; the same light gleaming through the glass above Paddington Station in London; the same light that rested on the mountain peaks of Tuscany as dusk. It’s the light I remember from the passenger seat of my best friend’s truck, driving through the Indiana cornfields on roads that didn’t have names. By some miracle, the breeze would blow this light into our crumbling Platt Park rental, fluttering the sheers with it.
It has followed me everywhere, or I have followed it.
The last book I was working on was meant to be a collection of essays about our six months traveling across the States and abroad with the girls and the business. I wanted to express my deep belief in discovering the world, in immersing yourself, in exiting your comfort zone. I felt all of those things then, I’ve felt them every time we’ve gone to a new place. But also, in each new place, I have managed to unlock a piece of myself. It’s not like something revealed inside of me. It’s like a tiny part of my heart that I find, scattered someplace else in the world, and when I get there, I get to pick it up and press it into place. I realized that I wasn’t really writing about travel, rather what it means to always be restless and always be seeking home at the same time.
It’s strange to be here in Colorado again and to be holding still. It’s alarming to consider how much time has passed, and just as astonishing to think how much still stretches out before us. My heart aches for the precious moments that have passed that I can’t ever go back to—would the light still be the same in Prospect Park? Would it feel the same to hop a random train in Paddington with nothing to hold me back? Will there come another phase of my existence in which I indefinitely immerse back into Mediterranean life? Has someone named those roads in Indiana’s cornfields?
Just as much as I long for times gone by, so do I see a vision of our future unfolding. Many visions, perhaps; but it’s the one in which our life takes root here that I try to focus on. This vision has plans for the house and ideas about local living and what it will mean to have to stay put. This version of our future contains its own version of me, a woman who cultivates contentedness. She seeks ways to add a lush green to the backyard that feels otherwise severe and dry in the mountain air. She is happy to see her words printed for the locals and doesn’t worry about the New York publisher who first wanted her book and then didn’t. She finds joy in driving through the woods to find a place to walk, even though once it was nice to step out the front door and be on her way.
I use to shrug off the word homemaker. I didn’t like the connotation, that as a woman, as a wife and a mother, it was my designated role to maintain everything within the four walls in which we live. How could I reduce myself to such a term when I find pieces of myself wherever I go in the world?
But when you’re a wife and a mother, you’re never living your life only for yourself (and this is true of many other roles, as well); and a slight shift in perspective reveals the power in the term: homemaker. One who makes home. One who creates a space.
This is something I’ve always tried to do, and something I have done in many places. It’s something I did growing up a little lonely in Indiana, trying to find my way for as long as I had to. It’s something I did at college, when I could define my own self a little more. Something I made in London, the short-term home that has had lifelong impact. It’s something I managed with very little square footage during our stints in Denver and Brooklyn. And something I found myself capable of, even if only for a few days at a time, while we hopped around the country and the globe.
Dry the laundry from a clothesline—notice the light as the clothes sway in the sunshine.
Tack the art line on a blank wall—notice the light that illuminates the beautiful stick figures sketched in crayon.
Grow the sourdough starter in the window—notice the light catching the bubbles through the glass.
Water the plants, every Monday—they notice the light as well.
Color coordinate the books, and then you are home.
For me, whether going or staying, it’s always been about something deeper. Underneath the restlessness and the adventurousness; below the layers of the girl so willing to move on if she must, move on if she wants; through the sentimentalism and the romanticism and the narcissism and the privilege and the very many shades of confusion, there is this: I have always wanted to belong. And maybe growing up is about the moments when you stop looking for the sense of belonging and you quit asking for permission to belong and you cease to worry about who you belong to.
Instead, you create all that. You’re a homemaker.