For about two years I lived in this absolutely beautiful, rustic home in a town that is the epitome of small-town America. For most of those years, I was one of three in the house until we finally convinced a fourth girl to move into the downstairs bedroom. To prove how rustic and antique-y this house was, her room didn’t have a door or an overhead light. She willingly moved into a room that was separated from the dinning room by a curtain.
Rustic and charming indeed. Forget epitome of small-town America, this house was the epitome of what life looks like right after college.
For all its quirks, I absolutely adored this house. My two years inside those walls are ones I look back with the deepest kind of gratitude and joy. It wasn’t that every day was amazing or that this decades old home didn’t betray us every once in awhile, but this place fostered something I had only experienced with the six people I grew up with—family and home.
I moved into that house with one of my absolute best friends. We’ve known each other since the first grade, and since then, we’ve just sort of stuck around. No matter what, we’ll never be able to get rid of the other, nor would we ever want to. But the other two girls in the house were more like acquaintances—people I’d heard of or seen in school but not close friends by any means.
We all had busy schedules—two of my roommates coaching high school soccer in the fall, one working on the weekends, another working two jobs. Some weeks it seemed like our door was constantly opening and closing—one person coming home, another leaving. But for awhile, we got into this routine that helped forge the kind of home we all craved.
Once a week we would try to eat dinner together. Sometimes this looked like gathering around the table together, returning to the kitchen for seconds and thirds. Other times, though, it looked like collapsing together in the living room, balancing plates on pillows on our laps.
After two years together, this house felt radically different than when we all first moved in. For the first time in our lives, home wasn’t our parent’s house. It wasn’t the place we grew up. It was that two-story house on Olive Street, and I absolutely love this.
In 2018, things changed. One of my roommates got married, and I moved to Thailand. 2019 brought more change when another moved to Indianapolis and another to a different town. Now, this house is home to a new family. It’s strange to drive past it, and honestly, I try not to. It feels a little sad, like a kind of loss. Part of me wants to walk through the front door one more time, but I know that even if I were to go inside, it wouldn’t be home.
Home was so much bigger than this space.
Last weekend, we all came together—the South Olive Four. I was back from Thailand. Danae drove up from Indianapolis, and my other two friends cleared their schedules for another meal around the table. We ate a feast together, munching on bread and brie and pie late into the night.
We gathered in a new home, a new space. The table was different, the space wasn’t so much our own as a borrowed space. But as we sat together, catching up, telling stories, laughing until tears rolled down our cheeks, the house didn’t seem to matter.
What mattered were the days that feel like an eternity ago—the ones we spent forging friendships day after day. Like the days we walked each other through the death of grandparents or heartbreaking break ups or crummy days at work. The days we blasted Christmas music and decorated for the holidays. The days we celebrated engagements and then weddings, passed tests, and completely average, ordinary Thursdays. The days we spent doing life together—all of life.
That night around the table, we did life together yet again. We talked about the things that bring us joy, things we deeply and joyfully anticipate and look forward to. And we talked about the things that are really challenging, because this is life. It’s beautiful and messy and amazing and heartbreaking. It’s difficult and also deeply holy.
And I was reminded once again that home and family are so much bigger than an actual place or the people we share DNA with. These are things forged by time and vulnerability and engagement. They happen when we lean into one another, choosing community over isolation, openness over guardedness, grace over grudges.
Today, this is what I am holding onto—that home, that family, that night spent around a new table in a new house. I’m holding onto the joy that comes when home is cultivated day after day as we call each other into community.