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what a house means to me

thank you all so much for all the love and happiness about our new house!  it feels amazing to share this with all of you. i have to tell you, this is a wildly huge event for me. i think it's a big event for everyone, but for me a house has always had an even larger meaning, my history of homes is a colorful one.  

when i was a teeny tiny person i lived in a van with my dad and his girlfriend and a funny little cat named "bouchette". my dad built a bed into the van behind the front seats for them and my miniature toddler bed folded out of the wall in the back where it was stored during the day with bungee cords.  we drove across the country having adventures and living a sort of hippie nomad lifestyle. i remember desert lessons: how to listen for rattlesnakes and the proper way to poke at tarantulas with a stick. i remember sitting on the hot, carpeted engine of the van in between the two front seats, the seat belt stretching across my lap.

our van home and a gathering outside of it. i'm in the red shorts.

before that there was a period of time that i lived with my mother, and we had no home. i was too young to remember, but i grew up hearing stories of being homeless and a life lived on the streets. she was alone, without shelter or transportation and caring for a baby. i can't even imagine the struggle and fear. she later got back on her feet and created a company with my stepfather that has helped non-profit organizations (homeless shelters, literacy programs, women's abuse shelters, etc) raise over 25 million dollars.  she started this company because she had $75 in her bank account and decided it was time to start giving back to the community.

before the start of the business we lived in a tiny apartment and every dollar was hard earned and spent with careful deliberation. there was a jar my mom and step dad stored change in to save up for a tv, a water bed, reeboks for my mom. it was a simple life and not easy for them, but we were happy. we lived like that for 5-6 years. after the business launched we moved into what we considered a luxury apartment that had wall to wall carpet and a chandelier in the hallway. it was on a busy street, had a music store below it. they bought a mercury cougar and we thought we had 'made it'. we celebrated like we were the fresh prince moving to bel aire. years later our small family moved into a charming house in the suburbs and then eventually a beautiful modern house built into the cliffs in an affluent community in cape elizabeth, maine. it was truly a rags to riches story.  

the view from the house built into the cliffs in cape elizabeth. it was our dream home.

when i was an adolescent / teenager my father lived on st. john in the us virgin islands and i spent a good chunk of my summers living on a sailboat anchored in a bay.  i learned how little space one really needs when the weather and lifestyle are permitting. i fell in love with sailing, with the caribbean, with the slow pace of island life, with simplicity.

in my adult life i have lived in 13 apartments & homes in the span of 7 towns/cities. i lived with a weird cat lady, with strangers, with friends, with family, and eventually with my husband.  i have had the world's worst landlords and some great ones. i've tried to make the best of every place i called home. and now, as we're settling into this, OUR VERY OWN HOME, i'm so incredibly filled with gratitude, both for where i am and for the path that brought me here. i have a deep appreciation for what a home is, what it means for a family, for the variety of shapes, sizes and forms they come in. i'm so aware of how fortunate we are, and how fragile these things can be. i have a small thread of anxiety that runs through me that it will all be taken away, that it's too good to be true. lou and i are both wandering around this house in a bit of a daze, feeling just so grateful and overwhelmed.  we know how lucky we are, that even though we have worked long and hard for this there are millions of people who are just as deserving and working just as long and hard (and often longer and harder) for a lot less. we'll never lose sight of that.

the first home that lou and i shared, in san diego. it was my first "grown-up" home.

it was important for me to share this with you because i'm always very conscious of the fact that blogs can make life appear easy, beautiful, better-than.  and i'm not saying that our life isn't beautiful and wonderful, it really is. but there's a story behind us, we're real people with lives that aren't perfect and never have been. i want this blog to be our story, and i want you to know us as more than just the two crazy lucky fools that we are. thanks so much for reading, for being so kind and generous with your words, we are always thankful.

Reader Comments (46)

Hi Sarah! I truly enjoyed everything about this post. Its really great to read how behind the glitz and glamour there are REAL stories, lives, and people. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. You are just fantastic and I love your blog even more now. You deserve all the best, you've worked hard for it!

xx Sarah

07/17/12 | 7:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterSarah | Chic Sprinkles

You are a true inspiration my dear. Your beautiful words really hit home as I sit here in my tiniest of apartments, saving pennies with my husband and dreaming of the day when we can stake a claim on our very own piece of land. It just goes to show that no matter where we are (tiny shoebox in Boston or a someday rambling farm house in Rhode Island) we have a lot of love and THAT is what makes a home. Thank you for reminding me :)

07/17/12 | 7:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterErin

wow, what an incredible story. I hope that you continue to share more about your back story- it's really interesting. I love that you are an honest blogger and you make an effort to be genuine- it's what keeps me coming back each day. Congrats on your new home, it is beautiful.

07/17/12 | 7:57 AM | Unregistered Commenteriz

thanks so much ladies! @erin i am 100% positive that you will have the rambling farm house in rhode island if that's what you decide to have. :) keep putting those pennies away! xo

07/17/12 | 8:4 AM | Registered Commentersarah yates

wow. this post was beautifully written, eloquent, and so amazingly honest. thank you so much for sharing your story and for giving your perspective... it's so much more interesting to see where people came from than just to see where they are at now.

I know I will be thinking about this post all day!

07/17/12 | 8:6 AM | Unregistered CommenterRita

I simply wanted to let you know that this post made my week! We all have a story and the way you shared yours shows your true colors. It made me smile and I hope for future post like this! Enjoy your new home!

Marie L.

07/17/12 | 8:9 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarie L.

I love your honesty, Sarah. You have incredible stories, and those pictures are beautiful. I cannot wait to follow along with how you make your very own house a home. Loved this today.

07/17/12 | 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnna

This was really perfect, Sarah. That is so exciting that you have come so far. I'm still in the apartment phase of life, but hopefully I'll have a home of my own too. I come from a similar struggling story and it does take a lot of hard work to get out of it. So congrats, lady!

07/17/12 | 8:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterCiara

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