the home of a nomad

...continuing my thoughts on "home and from"...

Alternately entitled, "in defense of hanging things on the walls as soon as you move in."

We never hired movers when I was a kid. We moved 14 times and always did our own packing, transporting, and unpacking. We kids were responsible for packing and unpacking our own rooms as well as helping Mom with whatever she told us to do. I've heard that nomads don't accumulate stuff the way nonnomads do. If this is true, well, I am appalled. Because we had a LOT of boxes to pack and unpack every year or two.

We hired movers the first time we moved within Kenya. Labor is cheaper here, and renting a truck to move ourselves would have cost close to the same amount. They packed, moved, and unpacked us within a day.

All of the boxes were labeled according to the room they came from, and would be taken to that room in the new house, but I still needed to direct traffic a bit since we were moving into a house with a different configuration of rooms.

I rearranged the kitchen after they left, but at least everything was out and usable. They reconnected the gas cylinder to the stove. They set up all the beds, including mosquito nets, which is really the most important thing to do on move-in day.

Before they left, they asked me where I wanted my pictures hung and got them on the walls for me! It felt so good. We were immediately home. Yes, we had to get used to living in a new town. Nate was afraid of his new school and missed his friends. But our house was home already.

I love having things on my walls. My walls aren't Pinterest-worthy or anything fancy. I'm not even showing a picture of them here. But it's things I like to look at: pictures of us, paintings, memories, some of our own artwork. I like to keep certain things in certain rooms. Family portraits in the dining room, safari paintings in the living room, boys' artwork and cartoon character prints in the boys' room. The above 10 year old postcard near my desk. Always. That's just my style.

Decorating is one of the first things I do, pretty soon after unpacking the kitchen. If I need holes drilled in the walls, I wait for Rodgers to do them all at once, but I still lean the pictures against the walls under their designated hanging space.

The point, to me, isn't to have a house decorated like a magazine spread. It isn't to impress people with our stylish taste. It's to create a familiar space in an unfamiliar (and possibly less-than-ideal) house. As nomads, we don't amass tons of memories in one home - we don't live anywhere long enough for that. We bring memories with us, in the form of family portraits, trinkets, souvenirs, the boys' drawings and paintings.

We only stayed in that house (the one the movers moved us into) for 6 months. The floor was severely slanted and full of holes. There was hardly ever running water. The plaster on the walls was mainly made of sand and crumbled if touched. We only had ceilings in half of the house. There were screens and bars but no glass on the windows. But it was our home for those 6 months. It was a haven at the end of a long day. We made a few memories there. We laughed and played and cried and learned and grew.

This week, Velvet Ashes is discussing "Nest."


  1. Yes, there really is something about having your things on the walls! It's become habit now when we pack our home to leave the things on the wall until the very last thing to pack. Once things are off the wall, it doesn't feel like home anymore. It's my little effort to help lessen the transitions of our transition-filled life! So glad you linked up. Really enjoying getting to know you here and on Instagram! :)

  2. I'm finally getting caught up on my blog reading, saw your post title, and thought, "Yes!" I like to get the pictures hung too, as soon as I know where the big furniture is going to go. I makes a new house feel familiar and homey, just like you said, it also gets them out of reach of all the little hands in our family that might accidentally tear or break them.


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