#IWasHere

Gayle Forman – one of the authors I recommended over here – has challenged the Internet to think. She’s challenged us to ponder our experiences and contemplate the moments that have shaped us – the brief snippets of time where we made an impact, or were impacted by the world around us.

She’s been getting some great travel pictures in response. Readers have shared pictures of themselves at Machu Pichu, in the UK countryside, at beaches, in cities, and on mountains. And I was so tempted to join in that game – to share a photo from one of my favourite trips.

But as much as travel has shaped who I am – and will continue to impact me – no vacation can top this #IWasHere moment: 1923719_8854647454_8096_n

Yep, that’s me. Nearly seven years ago to the day. Ripping up carpet.

It’s not too thrilling, right? It lacks the luster of the world’s wonders, and rolling up disgusting carpet isn’t exactly an experience worth bragging about.

But this picture is my #IWasHere moment more than any shot of me gazing over the harbor in Amsterdam, discovering chalky soil in Avebury, or enjoying a street party in St. Malo. Because although all of those experiences were amazing, influential, and totally brag worthy, this experience – wearing work gloves and trying to avoid sticking my face into nicotine stained blinds – hits home for me.

Because it is home.

My home.

This picture is from the day that we moved into our newly purchased townhome – a pair of twenty-somethings with vision, but not much else. Unless you count the cat pee stained carpets, which we ripped out that first night, or the nicotine stained…everything, which was either torn out or painted over.

We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into, buying a thirty-five year-old project of a townhouse. But we were excited. Optimistic. Ambitious.

And totally naïve.

So we ripped out the carpets. Then lived with subfloors for two weeks.

We threw out the blinds – all of them, from all over the house – and became adept at ducking below windowsills. For the next year.

We removed broken and stained doors. Then learned how to use a planer – and how to value our time – when the new doors didn’t fit in our house’s old doorframes.

Then, we found out how expensive doorknobs are. And “locked” bathroom doors with a box of magazines. For months.

We painted. Scrubbed. Replaced. And lived.

It took us years to get the house to the point where we were happy with it – where we didn’t feel like there was another project that either needed to be dealt with, or actively ignored.

But an incomplete house didn’t mean we had an incomplete home. We turned this place into a social hub where rescued dogs have found comfort and friends don’t knock before walking in.

And now that we’re dismantling it, selling off our belongings piece by piece, getting ready to leave it in the hands of a new couple, I know that I should feel sad – that I should feel like I’m leaving years of my life behind, abandoning them for the unknowns ahead.

But I don’t feel like that. Not most days, anyway. Because the adventures that I had in making this house livable – in turning it into a home – don’t reside within these walls. They’re alive in me.

Because I was here.