new home

| September 13, 2015

Moving into David’s parents’ house was a no-brainer. We’d save on rent, have an easy commute to River Valley (where we’re both happily teaching now), and do Mark and Cheryl the favor of care-taking the homestead while they’re in Dallas.

the house

Okay, confession time: I’ve never wanted to live in a big house. I love rambling old New England farmhouses, but I love other people’s rambling old New England farmhouses. Too much upkeep for me. Too many surprises.

The first time I fell in love with a home – the first time it felt truly my own – was when I lived in a tiny studio apartment on Lovett Street. I spent five delicious years there, and I brought my attention to every nook and cranny.

tiny touches in my little apartment

I’d been in the Draper homestead many, many times, but it wasn’t until we moved in that I realized how many nooks and crannies I didn’t even know existed. I couldn’t bring my attention to all of them if that was the only thing I did every day.

a pie-safe tucked in the corner of the living room

The fact is, I love small living spaces because I feel like I have some semblance of control over them. This concern for detail is a gift when I direct it toward creative pursuits: writing, music-making, even arranging the bathroom cabinets.

the bathroom cabinet

It becomes a liability when I direct it toward life itself. I want to have a Plan. I want a clear career track, and one for David too. I want to know if and when we’ll have children. I want to know that we’ll be safe and healthy and that everyone we love will have everything they need.

From the vantage point of first world privilege, that doesn’t sound like too much to ask. But it is, isn’t it? No amount of careful planning can prepare us for life’s surprises. Keeping a home neat and organized won’t shield me from illness, death, or even mundane discomforts.

So here is the exquisite challenge: to relax my grip on the details and receive the abundance of this season. Perhaps I’ll never keep up with the sweeping, but even on an overcast morning, these hardwood floors shine.

overcast morn

On Saturday we paused our weeding and unpacking to visit the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society. We thought we wanted a pair of kittens, but instead we fell in love with a stripy gray three-legged cat. Suddenly the big old house doesn’t feel like a big old project. Now any of the nooks and crannies might be holding Thomas.

Thomas the cat

Purring fills in the edges of the days.


Our new home is like life: big, beautiful, and way beyond my control. There is no Plan. There is today. The most we can do is fill it with love.

Category: beauty, creating, love, remaining calm

About the Author ()

Hannah Lynn Mell grew up a missionary kid in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Now she lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts with her exquisitely kind husband David, their plucky three-legged cat Thomas, and a needy-yet-lovable dachshund named Birdie. She's worked with singers since 1998 and loves to help people of all ages free their voices. She's currently earning a Master of Social Work degree with the hope of using creative, expressive modalities in clinical settings.

Comments (10)

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  1. Mum says:

    Aaaaah!! Looking forward sooo much to our visit with you at Rowley Homestead!
    Adventures ahead!!

  2. Joy says:

    It’s funny how a picture of a bathroom cupboard can make me nostalgic. Seeing you in the place I still call “home” makes my heart sing. Can’t wait till December when we’re all packed into the books and crannies.

  3. Kathy says:

    We are much the same in this way. Hoping that we both find relaxing and peaceful ways to give up The Plan and attempts at control. 😉 Love you!!!

  4. Doug Bowker says:

    Nice post Hannah, and I love your new kitty!

  5. Charles Terranova says:

    Wow reminds me so much of our house in Scituate on the grounds of The Montessori Community School. (Aka Inly)