“Where are you?”
“At home. You?”
“I’m at the house too.”
House. I wanted to say “home”, but couldn’t bring myself to do it.
As a little girl, I sacrificed oodles upon oodles of paper in search of the perfect home. (I never drew much else, mostly because my talent was limited to straight lines and ordered forms. Those stick dogs were way too risky.) So you could say I’ve always had a preoccupation with what a home should be; as I’ve gotten older that interest has morphed into a fixation with the word’s connotations. This preoccupation has led to a lot of angst. Out of the 12 places I’ve laid my head down for the night in the past 21 years, not a single one ever earned the right to be called “home”. I was always living in borrowed space.
Now I’m renting #13, a three-room house within 5 minutes walking distance of my school. It doesn’t look like any of the pictures I drew. The concrete walls are crumbling in places. Beneath these crumbling walls exists an entire ecosystem of insects (luckily Wikipedia research tells me that the food chain should keep itself in check).
But I love the house because it isn’t borrowed space. What is within and beyond its walls is a reflection of my inner self – no clutter or pointless materialistic things to throw off the zen. Inside I’m rediscovering the pleasure of simplicity. People who have a tin roof know what I’m talking about when I say you can make an entire afternoon just lying in bed listening to the rain.
Then there’s the new prospect of having guests. Maybe I did watch a little too much I Love Lucy while growing up, but for whatever reason, I’m a firm believer in some traditional roles. As a woman there’s some part of me that always wants to be experimenting over the stove, my hair and apron covered in God knows what, flour all over the floor. Eastern Europe has taught me to go without a lot of things before going without coffee and pastries to serve.
On the outside, there’s freedom and a very cozy porch. Not answering to a conservative host family who requires you to be home at 9 o’clock is life-changing. The gardens and views around the porch are fantastic. The trees are a different green from what we know in America. My neighbors and I share a yard, in which they grow the most varied assortment I’ve ever seen: roses, cacti, herbs, apples, plums, peaches, pears, grapes, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, berries … We do have a cow. Two actually. And several chickens. I get all the eggs, cheese and milk I can stomach. Pasteurization is for amateurs.
Of course, not everything is rose-colored. I still hand wash my clothes. And the rooster’s internal clock is f*ed up beyond belief. Someone needs to tell him 3 a.m. is a long way from dawn.
Now on to topic B.
A truly good person – one you want to love and have in your life forever – is timeless, much like a work of great art. As I was connecting this analogy I thought of the last time I stood before something in awe. Its beauty moved me because it was a self-contained constant that existed in and of itself; it managed to resist the world’s ugly influences while inspiring and uplifting everyone around it. Age will erode its presence little by little until there’s nothing left to see, but the thing will continue to live on in the minds of those who have had the fortune to encounter it.