The Path Of Ambience

“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” ~ John Howard Payne

~     ~     ~

There’s nothing like boxing up your worldly goods and transporting them from one place to another to instill a longing for the familiar… a longing that can only be appeased once the final article is unpacked and in it’s place.


I checked the padlock on the storage building and turned towards the truck.  Then it occured to me.  We’re homeless.  Well, “semi” homeless.

Other than a P.O. box number and a 10 x 20 storage cubicle stacked with the tangible evidence of our lives, we had no physical address, nowhere to call “home,” no place to live languorously, or love and laugh… no home.

Changing locations was an extension of our nomadic lifestyle — we’d done it three times in four years — but this time it was different.

“Moving” implies a definite destination and all we had was an idea.  After enduring almost half a century of Minnesota winters, Oklahoma sounded pretty good.  We just didn’t know where, or when.

With all of the accoutrements of home — from dinner plates to dressers, trinkets to treasures — locked behind a single-stall door and fading fast in the semi’s side mirror, my world suddenly became unfamiliar.  Or maybe a little too familiar.

Two human beings jutted together in a confined space for an undetermined amount of time can lead to some interesting dynamics. (!)

For now, our living quarters consisted of the inside of a 2005 Kenworth — less space than we’d assigned to the the inanimate objects we’d tucked away in silent repose.  Except for trucking runs dispatching us from Point A to Point B, we literally had no place to go.

It’s said that “Home is where the heart is.”

In our case, we were “home” 24/7, but it didn’t feel like it.  Even with the cute throw pillows I’d plumped over the paisley comforter on the sleeper bed, the truth was: we were wanderers.

As I glanced back one last time, I uttered a prayer and said, “Hasta la vista.”

It took leaving every thing behind to discover the things that meant the most to me.

It took leaving “home” to come home. ~

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Ambience  is defined as “a surrounding or pervading atmosphere.”  Walk into a restaurant without it and I guarantee you won’t be a repeat customer, unless the food is exceptional.

The same is true of where we live.  More than just a place to reside or an accumulation of things, “home” encompasses a mood.

While I don’t recommend packing up your belongings and heading for the open road (unless you really want to be a truck driver), sometimes stepping away from “things” and taking stock of them is a good way to define yourself.  For me, it took a total disconnect from “impersonal things” to define ambience to me, personally.

We sailed the concrete sea for three months.

Living elbow to elbow, wrestling for mental space, loving and forgiving one another, living life-close-up forges the kind of atmosphere found in a warm home… or a blast furnace.

During that time I came to come to grips with everything I knew or felt about things… about home.  Was it really all about that cute little ‘display’ in the corner nook, or the latest color scheme perking up incidental places, or an afghan tossed ‘invitingly’ over the corner of the couch?  Did I really ‘need’ the next trend-setting things?

The longer I was away from them, the more shallow they felt.  The more shallow I felt.  I’d placed so much emphasis on making an attractive living space, I neglected to notice that I was merely looking at it, not living in it.

Pride goeth before the fall.

With nothing more than the clothes on my back, a favorite bedspread, and another human being to share the ride, I came to realize that the most important thing in my “world” was the human being.  It elevated my level of ambience to downright hospitable.

And I haven’t looked back since.

The next time you’re expecting company and you’re tempted to go “all out,” ask yourself why.  If you love doing it, great.  If you don’t, re-evaluate.  It’s all a matter of perspective.

So is it possible to create a warm, comfortable, human-being-affirming atmosphere in the cab of a semi (for three months?!) with more emphasis on people and less emphasis on things?

You betchur boots it is.

But don’t take my word for it.  Try it in your own home.

Enjoying all “things” in perspective,

~ Kim

27 thoughts on “The Path Of Ambience

  1. ah, kimby, nomad, yes, that is true. where is home? i love the two sentences “It took leaving every thing behind to discover the things that meant the most to me” and “It took leaving “home” to come home” both are concepts that i can deeply relate to. from 2002 to 2005 i moved across three continents, from the US to west asia back to the us and then to north africa. i remember that feeling of turning the pad lock. i now have deeds with my name on it. but they’re just pieces of paper, structures with stuff inside. yes, items from my travels objects that i adore but what would i take with me if i had too? always the photos, some books and now, my daughter, husband and mother. funny how it’s so simple, it’s just really just the mood. thank you for such a warm and cozy post, it reminded me home is where the heart is.

    • Nasrine, I thought I was making a big move, leaving my home state to live four states away… but moving across CONTINENTS?! Wow. You’re more of a nomad than I am! :)

      I loved how you summarized your comment with your family and favorite things surrounding you, no matter where you find yourself. I agree. When it comes down to it, the relationships we establish are what set the “mood” of our lives, and our homes. Thank you!
      ~ Kim

  2. Kimby: I LOVE this. Home is indeed wherever you are and it’s definitely not the stuff. A year ago I moved to a different neighborhood in NYC. As with any move, de-cluttering is a must. I got rid of tons of stuff. But if there was something I knew I’d miss in the future I took a photo of it! And it’s worked. I don’t need the “thing” but I can glance at it and remember the memories it holds.

    Your post is a reminder during this busy season to travel lightly (metaphorically speaking) and not get caught up.

    Thank you!

    • Tracey, that’s a fantastic idea to take photos before you downsize! I’m also glad you pointed out the memories that things can hold. In our culture, things are so quickly replaced with the “next thing,” it barely gives people time to equate any sentimentality or appreciation for what they have.

      I’m sort of like a kid with a “blankie” now — I love things to pieces before I part with them. :) But when I do, I’m content. And now I’ll have the opportunity to “remember in pictures” like you do — great idea!
      ~ Kim

  3. I loved this post, Kim. I am so affected by the ambiance in my surroundings that I sometimes feel like I take on the energy of the objects in the room. I feel especially unnerved in antique stores. Too many old souls beckoning me, I guess. One of my colleagues coined the term: sentelligent. I love that. I am needing less and less stuff and wanting more and more spaciousness in my world. I think that’s what first drew me to your blog. A little lunch by the lake, how spacious is that?

    • Sue Ann, I loved your statement: “…sometimes I take on the energy of the objects in the room.” When we’re surrounded by our favorite “things” (yes, we’re allowed!) there IS a certain energy they imbue, without being the central focus.

      Re: antique shops… my biggest problem is recognizing (and/or having played with!) most of the “antique” objects, lol!

      I’m also mindful of being “a little lunch” — thought maybe my Forks In The Road posts might be perceived as “dinner” :) — but so far they’ve been well-received. Thanks again for the opportunity to Blog With Intention!
      ~ Kim

  4. OOooooooo, I LOVE this tale you have woven so wondrously to gift me with your nuanced experience and your wisdom learned! Like a Bard singing her ballad of adventure embarked upon for the treasure hard won! The “human being.” Profound. Echos.
    “It took leaving every thing behind to discover the things that meant the most to me.
    It took leaving “home” to come home.”
    Really beautifully written, Kimby! This one is submission material! LOVE!

    • Kathleen, I SO enjoy your comments… a Bard, yup, I can relate, musically and literature-ly. :) Thank you for tagging this “submission material” — the dream is there. Now I just need to follow up with it. With encouragement such as yours (and from ‘the group’), I’m inspired to new heights! Thanks again.
      ~ Kim

  5. Fantastic, Kim! As a self-proclaimed intentionalist (a minimalist’s sassier and more aesthetically in-tune cousin), I value people and experiences over things. Doesn’t mean I don’t have a house that people love to spend time in, all 550sf of it, because I have created a warm and welcoming environment filled (sparingly) with interesting and unique art and such, but, nothing has any hold over me. I am not owned by my stuff.

    Keep staying present around *stuff* and you’ll do just fine!

    • Shanna, I’m lovin’ that intentionalist description — sassier and more aesthetically in-tune

      I probably have way more *stuff* than you do :), but I’m in tune with it and it sings my song. And that’s what you pointed out — a warm and welcoming environment is a reflection OF you, NOT “you.” Inspiring comment!
      ~ Kim

  6. Kim, I really, REALLY loved this post. Especially as we host people with the holidays happening, I DO want to focus on the people–and not on impressing the people (which is selfish since it focuses on their opinion of me rather than just caring for THEM). So timely . . . Next week my inlaws are with us for a few days, and I hope to put this into practice!

    • Jenna, I think you identified an underlying theme… approval. Of COURSE we want our guests to be “wowed” with the efforts we’ve gone to, but if our motivation is ‘approval’ (or anything remotely smacking of it,) our focus is in the wrong place. Great point! (And a whole ‘nother post!)

      I hope you have a wildly successful, “WOW” time with your inlaws — not because you’re trying to impress them, but because your extra attention to detail and “TLC” are a part of YOU! Thanks.
      ~ Kim

  7. Honestly, Marion, I wasn’t thinking of the holidays when I wrote this, but it seems to have struck a chord. Happiness is not found in retail therapy. :) Thanks for your comment, sweet friend!
    ~ Kim

  8. Hi Kim!

    Your posting is so appropriate – especially given the holiday season! You’re reminding us to focus on what matters most. I especially resonated with this part of your posting:

    “While I don’t recommend packing up your belongings and heading for the open road (unless you really want to be a truck driver), sometimes stepping away from “things” and taking stock of them is a good way to define yourself. For me, it took a total disconnect from ”impersonal things” to define ambience to me, personally.”

    What a great reminder to use detachment from physical objects and situations to get down to defining what feels right to you.

    All my best,

  9. Beautiful Kimby! Your posts are so thought-provoking and eloquently written. Love reading them (even if I don’t always comment…I am a little bad about that). Thank you for the uplifting thoughts today! You have your heart in the right place. :)
    Amee @Amee’s Savory Dish

    • Amee, no need to apologize re: not commenting every time. I’m glad you did now! Some days there just aren’t enough hours in the day, or the ones we do have are filled with obligations, work, family, etc. (NOT in that order — you know what I mean!) Thank you for your “heart” comment — that meant a lot to me! :)

    • Great point, Mike! The first Thanksgiving we hosted at our house (where we live now), I seriously underestimated the time needed to make/bake/serve everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) I’d planned for dinner. I spent most of that holiday in the kitchen, talking “at” our guests instead of “with” them and I felt terribly neglectful. Everything tasted wonderful, but it would have tasted BETTER if I was sitting at the table with them instead of slinging platters out of the kitchen as fast as I could! Lol, live and learn… :)

  10. I love reading your life story, Kimby. In S’pore, we view properties as an investment & people kept moving house. This is my 4th home & I’m loving it. No idea when I’ll start packing & move to another new home. Lol! But wherever my home is, is always home, sweet, home to me :)

    • Shirley, “moving” is such fun, eh? I’m glad you found a home you’re loving — that’s when you know you have the right perspective on things, making it your “own” and expressing who you are (and all that wonderful entertaining you do!) We have a lot in common — you love what you do — and where you are! :)

  11. What a GREAT post! My sister and her husband sold everything one day, bought a big RV and hit the road….they’ve been doing it on and off for 10 years now. Every once in a while, they’ll buy a house and settle, but it only lasts a year or two!

    I LOVE cooking for folks, but I’m all about comfort – so I’ll make a white table cloth style dinner, but chances are, we’re all in shorts & flip-flops!

    …and home truly is where the heart is!

    • Heather, I like that: home is where you are! :) Yes ma’am!

      Unrelated side note: I was worried that I came off sounding like I was downplaying “things” when in fact I have “favorite things” that add to my enjoyment of life — everybody does! Now they add to the “ambience” because they MEAN something to me; I’m tickled to use them to add to someone else’s enjoyment!

      I think that’s the thing with all of my foodie friends (you included) — using “things” (gotta have that Dutch oven, lol) in the proper perspective is a gift and a JOY when we can enhance the lives of our families and friends. That’s what it’s all about. Thanks for your faithful, encouraging comments!

Your thoughts are valued. What's on your mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.