Chris climbed into bed and I flipped off the light. The room was cold, and I was not looking forward to the cool sheets waiting for me underneath our comforter. Nor did I think Chris was looking forward to my icy toes tucked beneath his warm calf.
"I'm going to go heat up the rice bag," I decided. I made that rice bag over a year ago, and while the stitching has not held up very well in some places, it's still perfectly functional. Plus, the bright red fabric makes it a lot easier to find than several other things in our household. Like cell phone chargers.
The weight of the rice bag always surprises me when I pick it up. I shifted it in my hands, enjoying the susurration of some thousand grains of rice. I hoisted it into our microwave, looking forward to the warmth it would hold. I leaned against the wall in the orangey dimness. Just listening.
And in that moment, it felt suddenly, strangely, like home.
There are a lot of things I would change about our apartment. It's never as clean as I wish I could make it, and never quite big enough to hold all of our stuff, no matter how hard we try.
Yet, listening to the hum of the refrigerator and microwave, in the chilly stillness, it struck me that my heart has put down roots here. It's not perfect, but it's ours, and that all by itself is beautiful.
I'm especially grateful to be aware of that at this time of year. Our families are a long way away, and although it's my parents' turn to have us for Christmas, sometimes I can't help but feel lonesome for another time and place. Roommates scurrying to pack, delighted to be going home for the holidays, and yet equally delighted to be coming back to live with me for another semester. My siblings and I decorating the house with red ribbon and setting up the porcelain nativity, all with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir playing in the background and Mom baking in the kitchen.
Here, our Christmas decorations are scant. Our home is quiet. The snow falls outside, making this North Carolina girl feel a little further from what she knows.
And yet, this is home. This is the life I have chosen, and the life I choose to love. Day by day, and in unexpected little moments, we make this shared space more deeply ours. We will imbue it with the meaning that comes of a thousand memories, all rubbing together, ready to make us warm.
Ding. The rice bag was done. I took it out, and the warmth sank into my hands like a long hug. I poked it under the covers, and climbed in after it.
Oh yes, I thought as I snuggled close to Chris and buried my toes in hot rice. This, this, is home.