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What makes a house a home? – our experience of Dublin so far.

9 October 2012

So after just over 2 weeks in Dublin for the first time in my life I have pondered the question “what makes a house a home?” After months of looking for houses on-line, an intense 4-5 days of moving and unpacking boxes and then just over a week of being on the ground I  feel that what used to be just a ‘house on an estate agent’s board’ is starting to become ‘our home’. So what are some of things that have enabled this transition? I am sure there are more to come but here is my list; I’d love to hear yours.

WHAT MAKES A HOUSE A HOME?

  • When you know how to find your house from the city-centre. In my first week I got utterly lost on the one-way system around St Stephens Green in the city centre and after about 20 minutes of following the one-way signs I didn’t know where I was, which direction in the city I was facing or which road I needed to get home. It is then you realise that you are NOT ‘at home’. I should add it took Leanne all of about o.5 seconds of living in Dublin to have it totally nailed…but then again she is a sad map-geek who enjoys looking at road maps in her free time (total loser!).

  • When you know how to use the public transport. The first time I went to use the tram system (the LUAS) I started to ask the station guard how it worked and he got so frustrated with me that he lost his patience and hope and walked off leaving me none the wiser (no joke). I have subsequently found out that it is VERY easy; I was totally incompetent and he was right to walk off.
  • When you recognise the different coins. I still have to get every single coin out of my wallet to look at it when paying at a local shop which is long, tedious and embarrassing (and also why I have lots of coins and not many notes in my heavier-than-usual wallet!).
  • When you know where to get whatever you need. Looking in the fridge and cupboard to find no milk or bread and then thinking ‘I’m not sure where the closest shop is…’ makes you feel like you are NOT ‘at home’.
  • When you put your own pictures up (and position the shoe rack…there was much discussion about where the shoe-rack should go, much to Caroline’s amusement and then rage!). When the house has bare walls it does not feel like home but as you put your own familiar pictures up and then you come to have a favourite seat and a set place for your morning cup of coffee it starts to feel like home.
  • When you have internet up. I am loathe to say this but I hadn’t realised how disorientated you feel without internet. Maybe this says more about me than about making the house a home (you decide) but the house has certainly become an easier place to live now it’s sorted.
  • When you know the dimensions of the furniture/room off by heart so that you don’t bang into walls when making your way to the toilet in the middle of the night. My first few middle-of-the-night-toilet-trips were not a pleasant experience. I think I collided with one wall, one chest of drawers and one banister and it certainly made me realise this house was not yet my home. You’ll be glad to know that I now have it down and don’t even need to open my eyes or even fully wake up (too much information..???).
  • When you can locate the light-switches in the morning when it is dark. When you spend the first 5 minutes of a day blindly slapping walls you know it is not your house.
  • When you know the quirks in your house and accommodate them (including loving our very noisy shower next to our bedroom which sounds like a plane is taking off every morning at 7am…joy!)

  • When you start enjoying the house, the city and the culture (and not wishing for your old place, old city and old culture). Last night Leanne and I went out for dinner (2 weeks after arriving) and talked about how we were doing and Leanne described that it felt like coming home, such is her connection with the city, the people and the culture. We both absolutely love our home (bar the jet-engine shower). The city is fantastic (which was one of the big draws for moving here in the first place) and in all honesty we have never met such welcoming and friendly people in our lives. From the next door neighbour to the lady working in the bank, from church leaders in the city to other acquaintances in the city…we have been HUGELY welcomed. That said…other culture differences we are learning to love are (a) Irish time-keeping (b) poorly given directions (“by the tree…after the bend…and you’ll be there in no time at all”) and (c) lack of post-codes (I have got totally lost using my sat-nav on 2 occasions already).
  • When your mindset changes (sometimes by discipline) and you start calling it your home. Believe it or not this came home to me when I updated my facebook status to “living in Dublin, Ireland.” As someone who for years thought of facebook as the dark side, this shows how much I have been influenced. But when I did change my location (a) it felt right and (b) I felt proud. I have started to call Dublin my home.
  • When you invite people INTO your home. Without doubt the thing that has been the biggest and most important factor in the transition of calling this house our home has been hospitality. When you invite someone round for a meal or for a coffee then you start to feel a real ownership and you make a special effort to make them comfortable and to ensure they enjoy themselves. A house becomes far more than just ‘another house’ when you invite people over because it becomes a place where memories are created, lives are shared and community is formed. When you exercise hospitality your house quickly feels like a home. Interestingly, hospitality runs deep into the culture of this nation as it was one of the priorities of the Celtic Church. In fact, hospitality runs deep into the heart of God. Revelation 3:20 tells us that God invites us in to share a meal with him and John 14:1-4 tells us that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us in his Father’s house of many rooms.

However, no matter how much we feel at home in our house and in this city/culture, we are repeatedly told in scripture that heaven is our home (for example Philippians 3:20 & Hebrews 11:13-16). Every earthly home we make is just a poor reflection of the true home that we were made for and that each of our hearts crave . Our true home is with God and we’ll never generously share our homes nor leave our homes for new places if our ultimate place of comfort, shelter and community is not with the Father, Son and Spirit.

Over to you – what other key factors do you think are involved in a random house becoming a home?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Caroline permalink
    11 October 2012 2:19 pm

    Hi Steve, great post- I agree with all your points, and I’m glad you didn’t wake me up walking into walls in the middle of the night. I also thought of these:

    – Being able to walk home from work whilst not concentrating and still end up in the right place (I can almost do this).

    – Getting to know the sounds of your new place. You mentioned the amazing shower, and I’d also include the sounds of my new housemates(!). And one of the different sounds I’ve noticed most outside the house is when the green man tells you it’s safe to cross the road.

    – Going away and then coming back home again. Every time I’ve been away since moving here I’ve looked forward to coming back to my new home.

    – When the kids wave goodbye when you leave for work and then look pleased to see you when you arrive back. That helps make it feel like home.

    Caroline

  2. Julia Crookston permalink
    2 November 2012 9:04 pm

    How about planting some bulbs and enjoying the flowers in spring? Really pleased to hear you are all settling in, with love Julia

    • 5 November 2012 4:43 pm

      Hi Julia,

      Not much bulbs or flowers going on here but I take your word for it. I guess we’ll wait till Spring.

      Nice to hear from you
      SV

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