Five months ago, we moved our family of five from a 2200 square foot house to an itty bitty two bedroom apartment. We did it to be prudent. Job changes necessitated a move, and after hearing horror stories about houses being on the market for years, we chose to stay together and live conservatively until the house sells.
Moving from a fairly good sized house to a small apartment was a challenge. I have had to change my pantry habits, buying less and shopping more. No more stocking up on items for this mom. There simply isn’t room. There isn’t room for much. We are reduced to one coat per season, minimal toys. My Tupperware cabinet all but abandoned, as there is neither a spare cabinet big enough to contain my plastic stash, nor refrigerator space for the covered goodies.
Something else we left behind in our new skinny life…. the books. We own a ton of books. Nearly every room in our house had a bookshelf or two. With three beds in one room and barely enough clearance for the kitchen table with five chairs, we could not afford the furniture space. We vowed to use the library more often (and we do) and have a few reading choices stashed on the hall tree.
Even with library visits and those selected few volumes, I heard the swell of discontent. “I miss the books.” “I don’t have anything to read.” At one point, I had to give my Kindle to my 6th grader.
With this in mind, while packing up our house for the last time (it sold!), I told the patient husband we need to bring back a bookshelf. Neither of us knew where it would go, as the apartment was already filled to the brim with all of us and our minimal stuff. He doesn’t ask questions, and suggested the smallest of our bookcase collection. I put my sons on task to choose some books for it, and warned them to only bring what they will read in the next six months (because the house sold! We don’t have to stay in the apartment for years!)
This, of course, led to less packing going on and little boys getting into trouble for hiding in their empty rooms reading.
I put the bookshelf in the almost nonexistent hallway between the bedrooms and the living area of the apartment. We will probably run into it 500 times before moving out, swearing at this decision daily. The smallest boy put the books on the shelf, carefully, lovingly and oh, so slowly as he stopped to read each title and peruse the contents with the excitement of opening a package received in the mail.
Instantly, that bookshelf transformed the apartment. It made it a home. Somehow, this extra piece of furniture we decided was unnecessary five months ago adds an ambience that is comfortable and soothing. Each of us has stopped to look at the shelves, or touch its surface, page through a book, or notice how the shelf itself fills the space with good, comforting vibes.
A place is not a home until there is a bookshelf. I am convinced.