My workday ends at 4:57 p.m. on a perfectly crisp Friday evening.
Like any wild and reckless 23 year old girl, I drive to Trader Joe’s to purchase greek yogurt, a tandoori chicken dinner and a carton of eggs. I like to live on the edge, obviously.
The eggs are for sugar cookies. Some women like to dress in heels and sip cocktails on Friday nights. I like to bake sugar cookies.
The autumn sun has almost set as I scamper inside with my Trader Joe’s bag held up to my chest like a babydoll. I take Trader Joe’s very seriously.
The crisp evening air follows me inside. I can taste the crunchy leaves and chimney smoke on my tongue.
I light some candles, nuke my tandoori chicken and call over a couple friends. I have no expectations and apply no eye shadow for the occasion. I enjoy “going out” but I enjoy simply being in my home even more.
A front door and a fireplace – the place where I live and dwell – a place of good feeling – a place of my own.
When I was a kid I always wanted to be outside in the tree fort or playing barbies at my best friend Lynny’s house down the street. Being home involved homework and broccoli and bedtime. It wasn’t fun.
As a teen I wanted to be at the movies or the parties where the cool kids were. Being home involved chores and Algebra and screened phone calls. It cramped my teenage style.
And when I was in college I wasn’t sure where my home was anymore. Four years of dorm rooms and shared bunks and bedrooms made me appreciate the “home” where mom fixed casseroles for dinner and laundry was free.
As I’ve inched three years past the “twenty year old” stage in life I have come to love not a specific house or home but rather, the idea of it.
The three fairies in Sleeping Beauty take princess “Aurora” into a cottage in the woods and bake her birthday cakes and make her gowns. When I was a kid I wanted a cottage like that somewhere in the forest with fairies and cake and birds perched at the window. I wanted that because it would be something to call my own. I wanted it to be magical. I wanted it to be my magical home because home should feel magical. A place where we can play. A place where we can bake lasagna and sing John Denver songs off key in an old tee shirt stained with spaghetti sauce. A place where we can stay up late on the sofa in sleep shorts watching Forrest Gump for the fortieth time and eat cereal out of the box. A place to sip coffee at sunrise with puffy eyes and no make-up.
The microwave beeps three times and my dinner smells ready. I pull off the steamy film and feel happy that on this Friday night, I am home.
My friends come over and we watch campy old movies and sip on spirits, which feels appropriate for three twenty something So Calians dressed in plaid, without a dollar in our pants pockets to spare.
After a few drinks and the subsequent philosophical conversations impassioned by the eight o’ clock buzz of homemade cocktails, we go to the backyard.
We make a fire.
I make cookies.
We tell stories and break wood around the fire.
I chew a bite of warm cookie and taste the sweet sugar crystals melt into my tongue. The tummy- coating comfort of the cookies’ butter fills my soul as it does my belly. I take another and pass the plate to my friends.
I feel peacefully toasty with a different sort of buzz. In a trance, almost. Perhaps it was the dance of the fire’s yellowy flames as they curled and swirled over and around a stack of smoky logs in the fire pit. Or maybe I was bewitched by the white glow of the West coast moon as it bobbed over the distant hills. Whatever it may have been it can’t be described as anything but magical; the way I imagined my home would be when I watched Sleeping Beauty. Of course, there were no fairies or birthday cake or smiling songbirds at the window, but it felt no less enchanting.
I was home, my most loyal friend. A friend who nurtures me; who soaks the scent of my shampooed hair into her walls and finds me most lovely with no powder on my nose and a sloppy ponytail of tangled hair atop my head.
At 4:57 on a Friday, fifteen years ago I would have been brushing Barbie’s hair with my best friend Lynny down the street. Eight years ago I would have been begging my mother for a ride to the movies and an extended curfew. Four years ago I would have been swapping mini skirts with my college room mates, prepping for a night out but secretly missing the comfort of mom’s casseroles and the pillows and blankets of my childhood bedroom.
Here I am at 23 and all that matters most can be found in a brown bag from Trader Joe’s, a batch of home made cookies, and story telling with friends by the backyard fire pit. For the first time in a long time, I have no protest and prefer no other place than this. The place that proves herself faithful with her company every morning over coffee and every evening with her comfort after a long day. I call her “home.”
I channel Dorothy Gale as I say, there’s no place like her…
there’s no place like home.