The other night, we walked into our front door, after being gone for a few days. Immediately, my breath slowed, my baby quieted. We’d come home. There were a million items to bring in, and we had bags galore to unpack, but we still felt like the main work of the day was done. We were home. We were where we were supposed to be.
I found out recently that the home I grew up in is gone. There are no bricks left, none of the shoddy front porch, the cars parked in the front yard have been junked; there is nothing. Every poster and every pair of shoes I owned in my youth, bulldozed, too. I wonder: Does the ground there remember me? The trees and I breathed the same air. They are still there. I was once there.
I have sought impermanence to prove a thing. That I am not stuck. We are not stuck. If the place in which you find yourself doesn’t suit you, you may uproot. You are not a tree.
I am obsessed with our house. It is spacious, and has stairs, two things daydreamed about as a child. Things I sought in friends’ houses. I have never felt this safe and good.
Each week, I pledge my life to this place. I wink at the walls, I tend to the baseboards, I tell it I will remain in its trenches until the end. I will learn something about building safety, about the beauty in standing still, the richness of memories steeped in a fixed place.
On weekends, I cheat. I read about the walkability factor of other cities, I picture our little family in apartments, with barely a balcony for fresh air. Efficiently using small spaces. High-rises, teeming with bodies and hearts, living amongst them all. I am addicted to that scenario, as well.
What things build us? What we did have and what we didn’t. Where we found ourselves and where we dreamed ourselves. The people around us and the lack of others. The contours of our indoors and accessibility to the outdoors.
I keep asking what I need from a home and I keep coming up with soil, falling through my fingers. Home. A place, a person, a feeling. I know what I need, which is why I keep seeking. There is a definition rooted deep down in my gut. When I heed it, I’ll be home.