By Patricia Baer
Homeownership is a strange thing. It is exciting to finally have a place of my own that I can permanently mark with my personal style, but it is not really my own yet.
It was a bit of a letdown—after years of scrimping and saving for the down payment—to realize in the first few days that my new house felt no different than moving into a rental.
While the walls were painted in neutral colors and made available like blank canvases waiting for me to imprint my personal style, the rooms they surrounded still contained the echoes of the home life of those who lived there before me. Residue left behind from that life fired my imagination in every room.
A watermark on the wood floor where maybe a planter overflowed under the handiwork of a friend doing a favor while the family was away on vacation. Kitchen cabinets blanketed in shelf paper that excited the previous resident chef. The faded outline of a flower from a worn away sticker placed on a door by a well-intentioned child.
I acknowledge that it will take time to make the house my home. And it will take paint. And perhaps some new carpeting. Hanging family photos as I unpacked them started the process. Clearing a pathway through the boxes in the kitchen helped it along too.
The real turning point came one night when I took a break from unpacking and settled on the couch with a movie. Feeling I deserved to go all out, I made a bag of popcorn. As the microwave sounded its alert and the popping kernels calmed down, that buttery movie theatre fare smell drifted into the living room. It was a comforting aroma that made me feel I found home again.
I spent a few minutes reminiscing about what scents reminded me of my childhood, thinking I would pick up some candles to recreate those sense memories – morning coffee at my grandparents’ house, grilled burgers with my dad, homemade soup with my mom – but I soon came to the conclusion that I did not want to live in a facsimile of my past. I wanted to move forward with a vibrant fragrance of my own.
One of the following weekends I decided to treat myself with fresh cinnamon rolls. After placing them in the oven and forgetting to set the timer, I immediately became distracted by other tasks. Eventually, the familiar odor of burnt baked goods wafted through the rooms of the house. As I cleaned up the blackened breakfast, a realization dawned on me. It sure smelled like my home now.