Iíve never fully liked just about any house Iíve lived in. I grew up in a split level house which had drafty aluminum windows in the winter and insufficient air conditioning for the damp, humid and hot summer months. The refrigerator was at least 25 years old when I was old enough to become aware of itís small size and inability to keep peppermint chip ice cream frozen. The stove had about 6 settings none of which were quite right to prevent scorching pans while making a sauce or cooking rice. Over the years my parents replaced the stove, added a beautiful room with a fireplace and my father experimented with different ways to keep the house cool. Although I grew more comfortable in the house as we made improvements, it got smaller and smaller as I got bigger and bigger.
The first place I lived after striking out on my own was a miserable apartment over a parking garage with a tiny deck which overlooked the dumpster. After my rent when up 20% at the end of the first year, my priorities became saving money on housing by living with other people. I even shared a small bedroom in a rundown house in the shadow of a large apartment building in Berkeley while finishing my Bachelorís degree. The best shared housing arrangement I had was in a beautiful old mansion with a large redwood hot tub in the Rockridge district of North Oakland shared communally with eight other people. I enjoyed the house but living with eight other people is not easy. And in all these housing arrangements, when you live in someone elseís house, itís generally just they way they like it which is unlikely to completely suit your tastes.
I married into a house in Buffalo, New York which my wife Philomena and I still own but would rather not. The neighborhood is on the decline as is the upper/lower duplex. As with all the houses Iíve lived in I can remember (a total of 12 so far) there have been things I have liked and ways I have adapted but never been quite "at home". They were always houses that I had to fit myself into.
We tried to change this when we moved to Florida in 1993. Philomena flew down with the video camera and toured a number of houses available so we could make a joint decision. This went well up until we called the realtor and our first and second choices had been taken. We settled on a third sight unseen. We moved in and adapted.
So when Philomena and I started looking for another rental house this past spring, and having our application rejected for an attractive house we wanted because we had cats, I was not encouraged that we would find a house we would like. With a little good luck, and a lot of searching, we discovered our dream home with four bedrooms, a large family room, a large spacious kitchen with nook and large his and herís closets.
I have never lived in such a well designed or laid out home before where there was enough easily accessible storage space, closet space, and even kitchen cupboard space. The central air conditioning works in all the rooms. Two cars can really fit in the garage. There are plenty of large windows to enjoy. We even have a computerized refrigerator with water and ice in the door! This is the first place Iíve lived I would consider buying if it were on the market.
What is most remarkable to me about the house is how it has affected my attitude about living in Florida. Whereas before moving in to this house I had ambivalent feelings about being here, now I feel right at home. Whereas I used to prefer to be out and about, now Iím much more content just to stay home. Just being able to glimpse the spectacular Florida sunsets out a west facing sliding glass door which opens onto our lanai makes the chaos of getting my 4 year old son into bed less burdensome.
It even affects how I feel about my ministry here in Southwestern Florida. I was considering beginning to look around for a new settlement before we moved and had reservations as I was signing a two year lease. But after living here a few weeks ministry in Southwestern Florida started looking better and better. And when an attractive offer was tendered to me, it was easy to say no, we just moved and I am happy where I am.
This whole experience of satisfaction with a living environment has helped me appreciate again just how important the interior environment we create on Sunday morning is to our experience. The art on the walls, the flowers, the clean windows looking out on our native Florida foliage viewed from our screened in deck next to the butterfly garden, the smell of coffee brewing and the premium cookies after the service all contribute to a satisfying aesthetic experience. Neither you nor I live by sermon alone. The interior environment crafted by many hands helps bring the inspirational message spoken from the pulpit - home.
Copyright (c) 1996 by Rev. Samuel A. Trumbore. All rights reserved.
First Day's Record
c/o UU Fellowship
420 Willa Road
Newark, Delaware 19711