What’s left of my childhood is not a ton. A handful of pictures. (I have such curiosities about life for me back then! Not a lot of curiosity about what I looked like…I’ve seen a couple and I was basically just this: but shrunken.) There’s no home to head back to, where I can wander through rooms like memories. I did, of course, have a home growing up. A red brick double-wide trailer on a road that ran into the river. I remember the outside very well — I’d stand on the porch and sing my heart out, I’d sit in the driveway at night, staring up at the innumerable stars, I’d walk in the woods behind us. Fond memories from inside the walls are few. Not that I was beaten or starved; just that it wasn’t a joyride. (I do have a strong fond memory that plays much like I played it. My first record was a mini-LP of the Archies singing ‘Sugar, Sugar’. I put that sucker on repeat and jumped on the bed. I can almost remember the way I felt, flying through the air — the memory is so very strong.)
At this point, it’s been nearly a year since I called a place home — and even that didn’t feel like it. Because my apartments have been larger versions of bus shelters (places I’m just warming myself and biding some time), because comfort has never deemed or seemed itself a necessity, I have never had a home in which I loved to live.
I want a file cabinet with the last 7 years tax returns, I want a bedroom with the perfect-size lamp, and a bookshelf that doesn’t keep getting rearranged by being packed and unpacked. I don’t know why I’ve never put my heart into an apartment — maybe because they don’t seem meant for maintenance — they seem for suited for mere sustainability… But I want to create my space. I want a loft bed, Christmas lights for year-round use, plants I keep alive. I want to take the word home out of quotation marks. I want to invite you over to my place and for you to recognize it as mine when you walk in the door.
I’m still referring to renting, as ‘buying a home’ is still a little out of both my mind and my wallet’s reach. But walking through a home rehab store recently, I mused at the pleasantry and possibility in permanence. HGTV has become my favorite channel. Kitchen tiles excite me. That’s right. I’ve been ogling BACKSPLASHES, betches…and it doesn’t depress me in the least.
I just turned 35 years old and for the first time in my life, I understand picking out a non-temporary place. For a nightstand, arranged to your liking. For a kitchen, complete with the necessary knives. Finding out that you want something can be painful. I didn’t know I wanted a house until now. I didn’t know I wanted to pick out faucet fixtures. That I would want to set money aside for a staircase. My life’s desires have been downsized…but in the best possible way. I now believe that if you find a place you can funnel love into, it can become a vortex of love.
I want to give my adulthood a childhood — a place where she can traipse back through, years from now…where she can touch the same chair with an aged hand, recalling all that has taken place there.
So I’m going to seek a place to make my temporary home, but I’m going to treat it better. I’m going to lovingly drape it in my likeness, and tend to it until I’m ready to go. And then…my friends…I’m going to plant a garden and watch it grow.