Picture of me in front of my childhood home. Ain't I cute?

Home Is Where I Want To Be

(Goals for 2023)

by Kyle Barnhart

7 January 2023

Every time I sit down and try to think up a new set of goals for the coming year, my mind returns to this line I wrote a year ago.

“We all have somewhere we think we should be.”

It’s true. Whether we’re comfortably content in our lives or viciously bitter or anywhere in between, there exists a place we think we should be.

Maybe you’re exactly where you should be. Maybe you’re surrounded by Your People and steeped in purpose after years of hard work and planning and everything just feels right. But then, maybe some days you wake up and you think to yourself, “this is not my beautiful house.” Maybe some days you wake up and the distance left to get there feels immense, and when it does, maybe you feel the power to close that distance a little bit or maybe you don’t.

What’s out there, where you should be? Do you have a family? Do you have a big group of friends? Kids? Coworkers who respect you? A fulfilling career? A legacy? Loads of stuff? A house?

Do you have a beautiful house? Do you have a home?

Literally becoming a homeowner seems less likely than ever. The share of millennials who own homes today compared to past generations is an ever-diminishing number— less than half of my cohort owns a home today, compared to nearly 70% of Gen-X and 80% of Baby Boomers. I count myself among the ranks of millennials who have simply given up on the idea of homeownership.

Luckily, you don’t have to own a home to have a home. Home is where the heart is. Y’know?

Home is where I want to be.

Home can be a plot of real estate or an entire city. You can live somewhere for years and know you’re not home; you’re an interloper for a while, then you head home. You settle down. You make a home for yourself. If you have to— or if you want to— you can make a new home. Home is where you’re comfortable and safe and content. Home is the place that feels right.

Every time I sit down and try to think up a new set of goals for the coming year, my mind returns to thinking about where I should be. And what I keep thinking is:

“I should be home.”

This year, my goals should take me home.

Delivery Once a Week (or less)

By the end of last year, I’d developed a nasty tendency for ordering DoorDash. I was ordering dinner to be delivered multiple times a week. Like, three to four times a week. That’s ridiculous. That’s incredibly lazy and wasteful and so, so damn expensive.

And it’s counterintuitive; I love to cook. Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows I love to cook. Making dinner is a miniature engineering project, where you’re doing science and following instructions and using your intuition and the result is food. Sweet, savory, delicious food.

This goal forces me to more directly confront what I want and more actively participate in its realization. I should not be beholden to what someone can bring to me inside the span of an hour. Instead, I should do some work: Think about what I want, pick some recipes, and go grab some ingredients if they’re not around.

By cooking more, I’ll also be investing in my home. If I need some new piece of cookware or equipment to realize a recipe, then I should get it— cooking makes me happy and cooking what I want makes me happier. Cooking is also a great excuse to bring more people into my home (more on that in a minute). The smells of baking and the sight of fresh fruits are all vital to my own internal concept of a home, so really, I have to make them a fixture of mine.

Hell, after cutting a hundred DoorDash orders from my budget, I’ll probably be able to afford to buy a brick-and-mortar home.

Read Six Biographies

How does reading biographies have anything to do with finding a home? You know it’s gotta be a stretch (and I admit, it is) but bear with me here.

I need to know how other people made their homes. I need a better idea who I’m trying to become.

I’m a sucker for self-improvement, but nowadays that’s an entire profit-motivated industry. We’ll be hearing about stoics and Mark Mason and cold-water plunges and the benefits of stretching repackaged in a thousand different ways for the rest of our lives. While there may be value in the improvement-industrial complex, I need something deeper. I need real life. I need some advice I can trust.

A good biography allows you to draw your own conclusions. You can bear witness to a person’s struggles and mistakes along with their successes and victories. You can internalize these stories and map them onto your own life more effectively than a checklist or a twenty-minute video. I’m pretty averse to heroes, but that doesn’t mean that amazing people cannot teach us important lessons.

Also, I just need to read more books. This seems like an entire world of nonfiction that will scratch my desire to learn about history and teach me some lessons about what makes a life well-lived.

Host a Party or Two

I don’t just want to be comfortable in my home: I want to be proud of it. I want the space to be a place for more than just me, hypothetical romantic partners, my cat, catsitters, and family in town. Anyone should be welcome. Lots of people, all at once!

I wasn’t raised in a house that hosted a lot of parties, but I did learn how to be a host over the years. You get chairs and placemats and you keep your soap dispensers full. You have booze on-hand and maybe a soda or two in the back of the fridge. Know everyone’s dietary concerns. Oh, and you have to know where the deck of cards is, along with the mahjong set. Vacuum the floors and brush all the dust off the toilet tank before everyone arrives.

(How does that thing get so dusty, anyways?)

Listen. I’m the guy who wrote all the Facebook event descriptions back in college and I’m the guy who hosted Anime Club every weekend for two years in my twenties. I even threw a Friendsgiving at my place a few times. Even if my hosting muscles have atrophied a bit in the time since, they’re still there.

Just like making dinner, hosting guests makes a house into a home. Imagine all those things you hung up on the walls as conversation-starters actually starting conversations. Imagine using all that glassware you’ve held onto in case you have five people over all at once. Imagine you, floating from guest to guest, making memories with your hospitality.

Hosting parties— feeding and boozing and making memories in the space I call home. I’m gonna do that a few times this year. I know Ziggy will appreciate the company.

I’m seeking a sense of contentment. I’m reconciling my physical space with the person I am. I’m trusting this world enough to set down deeper roots. I’m believing in my own comfort enough to make this place mine. I’m working to understand what makes me comfortable in the first place.

I’m heading home.