31 July 2014
I've always had a divided definition of home. It's often referred to as the constant -- as the unchanging respite, that we, the changelings inhabit. I felt attached to that notion when, in college, I moved from apartment to apartment -- twelve months at a time in places I knew were transient. It's counterintuitive. What I mean was the homes didn't have time to grow into themselves --or to grow about me, like an ivy vine, growing about the shape of my life, integrating itself into the little cracks and crevices. Home was a place to rest with a book, arrange a wardrobe, cook a meal. But just that. A place. These homes were like minor characters who step softly into a story, then leave. They maybe have one good line, or impact the plot just so, but then you move on.
Now that I've spent several years of adulthood in the same space, I'm starting to know what it is for a home to evolve. Its doors grow worn. It gathers things. Needs to be rearranged. Needs to purge itself.
I can look back now, on the houses where I grew up and understand my mother, suddenly having to paint the kitchen or change the linens -- in these small acts of reimagining a space she was tending to it. And I imagine, to herself, too. What was going on in her life when she needed to change things? But then there were the things she always stood by, refusing to alter.
So, to me, defining home was always that tension. Between the shifting, and the components that never changed. My mother's room was always blue. This is the room where, when I was eight, she told me she had cancer. This is the room where I would sneak in to listen to the giant sea conches she kept on her dresser. I watched a flash flood from the windows. And just as soon as I recall the always-blue-room, I recall the front hall -- shifting from white to red to navy. Or the aging pink bathroom tiles replaced with crisp white ones.
The truth is, we sometimes want our homes to be everything. To be cool and warm. To inspire us, to calm us. We want our dishes just so. We want it clean. We want it filled with just the right things in just the right order. We want the light to fall a certain way. But the other truth is, our homes will always be cluttered just when we wish they wouldn't be -- because that's when we're cluttered too. More and more -- the longer we stay, and the deeper we know them -- they mirror us. Oh, and the older we get we start to mirror our mothers, too -- maybe only in small ways, but it's there. Like how I know my bookshelf will always be growing, growing, growing -- but I'll never give up on the dream of a clean, white bed.
Labels: home posts