Home: The Safe Place

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ~Maya Angelou

A town is more than streets and parks and restaurants. It’s where your home is. Your home, whether it is a small apartment or a rambling ranch-style house, it is where you go every night after work to eat, watch television, listen to music, and just be. Your home should be your haven, your sanctuary, your shelter from the harshness of the world.

After a little internet research, I found that the median home price in Decatur is $77,500 compared to the Chicago metro area where it is $187,700. The cost of living in this area is 21.70%, lower than the national average. We own a four bedroom two-story house that would probably cost double or triple if it was located in a bigger city. Now, admittedly,  the resale value of homes here remains stagnant at this time...no bidding wars over properties in Decatur. What you do get is a place that won’t put you into debt.

This town is full of a variety of neighborhoods. There is the historic West End. The homes that circle the lake are impressively glittering. Many blocks are like ours, lined with moderate sized houses with groomed lawns and flowers on the porches. Yes, if you drive through the inner city you will see blighted neighborhoods that wreak of poverty and neglect, but even there you can spot a well-kept yard or bright red geraniums by the front door. Decatur is like many towns its size...pockets of abundant wealth next to streets in desperate distress.

A few months ago my husband and I briefly put our house on the market. We thought that perhaps we wanted something smaller with less upkeep and a lower mortgage. The dead of winter is not the most opportune time to sell a home. We had no offers and just a few curious lookers. We also couldn’t find another home that fit our needs, so at the end of March we decided to pull the listing. I was so relieved. The thing is, I love our house. It took me months of searching before I landed on this one. The property had been empty for months. The shake roof needed replacing, the linoleum in the kitchen was orange and ugly, and the landscaping was neglected, but I just knew the minute I walked in the door that it was ours. This brown house would be our new home, and it has been for almost ten years now. We will eventually purchase new windows, the upstairs bathroom requires a total gut job, and we would love to extend the wood floors throughout the house, but those projects will have to wait. 

Now I plant flowers, sweep floors, bake pies, and enjoy this retreat we have created. Rock and I love to host large Thanksgiving dinners. We relish our intimate meals alone. Eventually I may convert one of the upstairs rooms into my writing office, but for now I have taken over the kitchen. My laptop rests on our high table. I have the morning sun on my left shoulder and cats at my feet. It’s where I find my inspiration, my peace. And isn’t that what home should be?

“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.” ~Benjamin Franklin