Nearly 10 years ago, we bought a really, really ugly house.
I’m not joking.
Some parts still are incredibly disastrous, like a giant wall mural of the mountains that lives on in our basement.
But in spite of how dated it was, the layout was awesome, the floors were fairly level (which is apparently a hard thing to find in Winnipeg!), and the location seemed to be a good enough fit.
When we had neighbours drop off freshly baked cookies before we moved in, we knew we made a good choice.
One concession we had made in purchasing the house is that we would renovate the kitchen. Promptly. The brown-on-brown and faux stone paneling was a bit of sensory overload. That, and the kitchen layout was a bit strange, with a dishwasher perched at the entrance to the room – clear across the kitchen from the sink.
We later discovered that there was some plumbing in the way of the ideal dishwasher location, so the previous owner had just hooked up the dishwasher in a spot with easier access to water. As an aside, he also left the dishwasher half full of utensils when we moved in. Including the knife that still slices cheese better than any I had owned.
Shortly after moving in we gutted the kitchen and made a way to put the dishwasher right next to the sink. It was one of our first big purchases for our home. As mom to a new baby, I was more than thrilled to have the help and to save the time on dishes.
Years went by, another kid came, and about a billion loads of dishes later (along with a couple leaks, one pricey tech repair, and a homemade patch job) it was evident that our dishwasher was on its last legs. When I found water pooled in the bottom a few weeks back, we finally pulled the trigger and bought a replacement for our first homeowner appliance purchase.
And here she is.
She’s fancy. And new. And has a special little light to let us know she’s running.
And she still washes dishes, much like the old one. In fact, loading it up feels quite the same.
It could be tempting to curse the whole notion of having to replace things. I could bemoan having to invest dollars in appliances that will inevitably break, notably sooner than appliances of generations ago.
Yet as I pondered this purchase it really struck me that we have lived here in this house, in this neighbourhood, making community with these folks around us for nearly a decade.
Nearly a decade!
Never in my life have things stayed so steady for so long. To be somewhere long enough that something wore out and needed replacing is actually quite the marker in my story, and in reflecting on this new kitchen addition – I feel strangely safe. Something about this hunk of metal and plastic actually reminds me that I belong here, in this house, with these people, and next to my neighbours.
It is not infrequent that in counselling sessions with folks that we speak of being rooted. Of finding solid ground, safe spaces, safe people, and places to belong. Somehow for me a dishwasher purchase is kind of symbolic of all of those.
Safety and rootedness can look different for different folks. Maybe it’s eating the same breakfast every morning, or vacationing at the same spot every summer. Or perhaps it’s making pizza every Friday. Or celebrating holidays by doing the same particular things each year.
Maybe there are ways that you feel secure and rooted in your life, with your people and in your routines. If that’s you, that is amazing! Some of us though, have to look a lot harder to find rooted spaces. Sometimes there are disjointed families, frequent moves, shifts in friends, and not a whole lot of rituals or traditions to sink yourself into in order to feel at home in your life. Perhaps then a mug of your favourite tea, a song from childhood, a piece of jewelry, or for me – a dishwasher that symbolizes steadiness and longevity, that may speak to a sense of being rooted and grounded in the world.
Not all of us have stories that we can look back on and find a sense of safety in, but my hope is that you will have eyes to see unique and unexpected places of steadiness and security in your lives, and that through those spaces you will be able to feel as though your feet are planted firmly, and that you may find some safety there.