A New Nest
by Kristin Armstrong
Illustration by Jessica Fontenot
The ice maker crapped out. The outside trim paint needs retouching. The carpet needs cleaning in the upstairs hallway.
Most people would take this as a gentle nudging that it’s time for spring cleaning, and time to make a few repairs. This is natural when you have lived in a house for over five years.
Not me. No. I am the woman who moved nine times as a child. I don’t want to do paint touch-ups. I don’t want to replace the ice maker. I don’t even really want to clean out the upstairs closet, or the laundry room drawers.
I want to move.
For someone like me, this is how it’s done. Go big or go home, or in my case, go big and go home — to a new home. We never did any of those purging, pruning things as a child. Moving is a purge.
I don’t recall ever cleaning out closets or getting rid of clothes that were too small or out of fashion. When you move every two years, you don’t consider tasks like this. You simply sort through your stuff on one end of the move or the other, and either you don’t bring your junk with you, or you don’t unpack it into your fresh, new space. You get rid of it either way, and you do it in a massive upheaval, all at once.
I guess deep down I must like this temporary chaos, even though it wears me out when it’s happening. Change is both terrifying and exhilarating, but for me, the scale is definitely tipped on the side of exhilarating.
With my son now gone in college, it’s time to purge his room. At least get rid of the clothes that don’t fit or he would not be caught dead or alive wearing, the old sports equipment stuffed in his closet and the books on the shelves he hasn’t read since, well, maybe ever. I don’t mean making it into a guest room, God no. I have grown-ass friends who still feel abandoned and traumatized by the fact that they came home from college after freshman year and their mom converted their childhood bedroom into a sewing room or a Zumba studio. All their posters and photos were ripped down and their room was totally generic, with a box or two of old yearbooks, dusty trophies and curled samples of old artwork that their “kids might want to see one day.” If I did that to Luke, it is doubtful that he would ever come home again.
I mean, what is the sense of coming home when home as you know it is no longer home?
And yet we cannot get stuck in a time warp. No wonder kids never leave the nest if the nest is exactly the same whether they are an egg or flying. But Luke’s room does need a purge. Or perhaps, in my line of thinking, a new room?
Maybe I’m the one who needs a fresh start? A new nest that defies the term “empty” because my nest will never, ever be that. Nothing fully inhabited is ever empty, and that is my view of my heart, my home and my life. Always has been. I’m on the lookout for a nest that reflects a new season. A space filled with light and possibility, room for new love and new memories. Not so big it makes me feel small, and not so small that it makes me feel constricted. A space that isn’t occupied with the ghosts of people who no longer live there, but instead overflows with the energy and ease of contentment, for all that already is, all that is to come.
A nest that welcomes me and my people home, and releases us to soar.