“Where you will go I will go. Where you lodge, I lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God”. I clasped my new husband Varun’s hands tightly, not knowing where our journey together would lead, but certain I wanted to go with him. As we jetted off to our honeymoon, we brought two suitcases filled with all we would need for wedded bliss: sunscreen, lingerie, a few books, love, and anticipation for the future.
We returned sunburned and eager to build our marriage in a cozy home. However, having graduated in the midst of the recession, Varun didn’t have a job. Because we were unsure if we would remain in Vancouver, we stayed at a friend’s house.
I was happy to nest and unpacked our clothes and filled the fridge with groceries. As the weeks flew by, Varun wrote cover letters while I continued an internship at a not-for-profit.
By September, we had lived in 4 places in 6 weeks. I cried as I hung wrinkled sundresses in a closet they’d only briefly inhabit. Tension was building. Varun and I were tired of moving, frustrated with uncertainty and ready to “begin” married life. We longed for a permanent address so we could sink into newlywed bliss.
Unfortunately, the apartment we had rented was rotting from the inside out.
In October, we moved again. We spent 10 months battling Varun’s unemployment. We fought and laughed and cried and dreamed. We went for walks, holding hands while we talked about fears and uncertainties, dreams and hopes.
Filled with optimism, we hunted for apartments and quickly signed a lease. I sketched a floor plan and trolled Craig’s List for bargains. Our boxes arrived slightly battered and weather-worn; nevertheless, we unpacked our plates and clothing, neatly unfolding our expectations.
Finally, after over a year of uncertainty, we could “settle”. Naively, I assumed that a stable job and a cozy home would be the respite we needed. Reality, however, was a rude awakening: making friends was difficult and we got lost navigating our new city. I often cried myself to sleep whispering, I just want to go home.
As autumn faded into winter, Varun and I found that we had brought home with us; it wasn’t in the things we unpacked from our blue plastic boxes.
During the stress of joblessness and house-hopping, we had made our relationship our home. Together, we had built skills in perseverance and communication. We had mourned the loss of childhood, and had grown to support each other. More than that, we looked to God for comfort and love. Our marriage had become a place of refuge from the storms of life.
And so we learned. Home is not created with décor blogs and buckets of paint. It’s not the “security” of a one-year lease or a job with benefits. Home, we were realizing, is the comfort and strength we found in one another and in our relationship with God. It’s knowing that whether we eat dinner off of Styrofoam plates in an empty apartment or entertain at a candle lit table, our humour, love and faith remain.
Last October, Varun and I moved again, to another city. We dragged our boxes out of storage, and I looked wistfully at the Vancouver area code “778” that I had scrawled in magic marker during our move a year ago. As I reflected on the changes since then, I realized that this move was different. I knew that if the wine glasses shattered in the moving truck or if the job ended, we would still have home.
Over the past 3 years, Varun and I have lived at over 7 addresses. Our marriage has come a long way since the neatly packed suitcases of our honeymoon. Today, it looks a lot more like the blue Rubbermaid storage boxes. Scuff-marks tell of a journey filled with challenges and adventures, but the boxes remain sturdy and beautiful, ready to be filled with the joys that make a home.
About the author:
Photo credits: Amelia
Amelia has a background in writing and campus ministry and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Clinical Counselling. Amelia loves chocolate in all forms, cooking new foods and traveling. She enjoys laughing and living life with her husband, Varun. Amelia blogs about the joys and confusions of her intercultural marriage at ESLMarriage.com. You can also find Amelia on Twitter.