A few years ago I changed my life by leaving a career I loved. Deciding to quit was especially hard because I did not really know what I was going to do next or how I was going to make a living. But I did not spend my whole adult life thinking I would be a teacher. So now I am facing another life-changing decision that may be even more difficult.
At this point you know I love the beauty and complexity of English. There are more words in the English language than any other world language. Obviously, there are redundancies because of the origins of some words, but I’ve always thought that this abundance of words makes it easier to express exactly what you want with brevity and precision. Yet I am struggling now with writing about how I feel.
Sometimes other languages have words that say in a single or few words what takes many in English. There is a word in Swedish that does this. The word is lagom. Translations include “sufficient,” “adequate,” or “the perfect amount.” But it encompasses much more than that. One translation I’ve found is “perfect-simple.” I love that.
I’m coming to the point: I have been obsessed with owning my own home since I was a child. When my peers were still playing with Barbies, I was looking through real estate guides and dreaming. I didn’t just “play house,” I went to church bazaars and bought sets of dishes with the idea of setting up my home. My greatest goal in life was to own a home. When I dreamt of the future, I didn’t envision college, career, marriage, kids. But I knew exactly what I wanted in a house.
I could talk about wainscoting or soft versus hardwood floors before I could discuss assessment or apostrophes. My best nightly dreams were not of flying, but of touring houses. Unlike Ahab, my monomania was not a whale, but a house. Because of this, I left my home to be able to attain a house.
And I found a house, and I thought it would be an interim place to stay while I worked to make my home dream come true. What I didn’t expect was to fall in love. You see, my house is lagom for me.
Bittersweet. There’s a perfect English word to show how I feel about putting my house on the market. Over the years I’ve made it perfect for me in every way. From the paint colors to the original artwork to the renovated kitchen to the gardens and the Adirondack chairs looking out over the little pond, I love it. Leaving my lagom house will be bitter.
But sweet because I was never meant to stay in Connecticut for this long. I have nothing against this state, but over the years I’ve realized that I am not just a New Englander, but a northern New Englander. Part of it is being closer to family and friends, but part of it is simply a sense of place. So while my house is lagom, it was never going to be my lagom home.
I know listing the house is not selling it, so it could be a day, a week, or a couple of months. If it were in a different place, this house would be my forever home. But it’s not, and it’s time to let it go. And I have to say it’s going to be really hard. I also know that it’s really just a building–a material thing–that I will be leaving behind. But I can’t help feeling that when I inevitably pack up my final box and head north, I will not just be leaving a house, but that I will also be leaving behind a bit of my dream.