First Nest

I didn’t glance longingly back at my bedroom’s blue ceiling with the hundreds of silver stars two of my big sisters had lovingly stenciled across it. I just picked up the suitcase I’d packed and took it out to the car my brother had loaned me. The day to move out of my childhood home had finally arrived.

All I could think about was the one half of a dorm room that belonged to me for the next month, and for the month following that if I wanted. The hospital where I would be trained as a Nursing Assistant had run a nursing school and owned a nearby student nurse dormitory. I was fortunate to have a place to stay so close to study and hopefully work afterwards.

It felt great to store my belongings in my half of the furnished room. Though small, it was my new home. I decided where things went and how to spend my time there. There was a desk and lamp across from the narrow bed. Near the foot of the cot was a closet with a built-in dresser. A bathroom with showers was just down the hall. I hadn’t thought about food when I rented this little nest, but the dorm building did have a large kitchen on the first floor. I loved my new home.

Nestmaking has always been one of my strong instincts. Playtime as a child usually involved turning my playground into a home. When I climbed a tree, each branch became a room in a house. A grassy area behind a shed turned into a maze of trails leading to a kitchen, living room and bedrooms. My imagination even turned parts of Daddy’s hayloft into a domicile.  

The instinct to make a home went into overdrive when I married. Arnie and I bought a 12 by 52-foot mobile home to live in. It was a cute little doll house and I blissfully went to work making it feel like a real home. There wasn’t much decorating to do, since the mobile home came with furniture and curtains, so I focused on learning to cook and clean. Getting up early on my days off to make breakfast for my young husband was a supreme nesting effort.

Making a playhouse out of an old milk house for my grade school children was probably more fun for me than it was for them. I painted the walls and floor, made curtains and hung them at the windows. A little cabinet, table and chairs from a garage sale completed the room. My nesting instinct was alive and well. The girls didn’t seem to like the playhouse. They said it was too far from the house and smelled like cement.

One of my granddaughters will get married in a couple of months. She and her future husband found a small, upper-floor apartment to live in. She plans to get it ready for them as soon as the landlord fixes damage done by a previous tenant. My daughter Tammie and I saw the soon-to-be-wed couple’s first home last week.

The rooms were small, the walls dingy and the ceilings sharply slanted under the roof-line. Even though the rent was affordable and in a good location, some people might be put off by the place.

Imagining how it would look scrubbed clean and with fresh paint on the walls with their limited selection of starter furniture filling the rooms, I felt the excitement the couple would feel as they made their own decisions and enjoyed each other’s company. They would be making happy, funny, sad, goofy memories in their first home. Memories that will be told as family stories for the rest of their lives. The apartment isn’t even mine, but I saw the happy home it would become.

I now look back fondly in my mind at my childhood bedroom. Although I loved my first home, the instinct to leave to make my own first nest was irresistible as it is for my granddaughter.

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