Sunday, July 8, 2007

House is Not A Home Pt I

While the terms are often used interchangeably, even synonymously, they are not the same. They don't feel the same. They don't taste the same. Think about it. The place you work may be in your home but it is not of your home. Whether it is a corner of a room, a desk, a separate wing, it is set apart from the overall living space, just as the segments of your mind fly off on their own, centripetal force flinging them hither and yon. So these terms form a funnel, the meaning of each more precise and yet more vague as the words shift from logical to emotional.
A building can be anything. It may be a house, it may contain your home, but it is a generic term for walls, floors, ceilings. It applies just as well to a castle as to a shed, chicken coop, multi-occupant apartment complex, shotgun duplex or waste disposal plant. It is a neutral word containing no emotional baggage. Nobody says, " This is my building" when pointing to their residence. Well, nobody except me. Because I lived in a building, not a home. When I feel kindly towards it, I say it is the house I used to live in, my former primary residence aka ‘the house of bad karma'. That at least indicates some ownership of it although not much. Only financial and legal ties, not emotional ones.
House? House is the first winnowing of the definition. House implies living space as opposed to commercial, farm, penal or storage space. It goes to the usage of the space. Can you say, "This jail is a house. This garage is a house." No. It fills your mouth with wrong. House will have sleeping, eating, bathing areas. The purpose of house is for people at rest, not things or activities. House provides the most basic shelter to any who have the key. Unless your name is House, in which case any who try to enter will find the doors locked tight. There is no key. My, that's a familiar feeling. Is House his own ‘house of bad karma'? Shall I send him a bonsai to care for, to warn him of pending evil?
Final term for today's lesson: Home. To quote Dorothy, "I want to go home." It is all anyone wants. To find the place that is not just shelter from the storms but shuts out the storms, gives safe haven, comfort. The place that never locks you out, but lets you in, keyless, naked and wraps you in warmth. Home goes to the essential and the existential. Home has nothing to do with a physical place and everything to do with velvet silver ropes that bind you to it. Do you have a home? Do I? Have I ever?
Many years ago, I searched for a house. Investment, shelter, tax advantages. All the usual logical claptrap which one needs to justify a big ticket item. I looked and looked, rejecting so many buildings, so many houses. Too small, too big, too crowded, too empty, too near, too far. I used every excuse that I did not even know was an excuse because I was looking for something else and didn't know it, was not aware what I searched for.
And then...
One day...
I opened the door. Saw a dusty mantle of a too small, too old, too many windows, too few baths house. With parquet floors. And it said, "I'm lonely. Please care for me and I will be your home. You will fill me and I will protect you." And I said, "Yes. I will love you. I will fill you with laughter and you will dry my tears."
I walked in, laid my head on that dusty mantle of that ugly little house. "I will make you my home. And I will love you and cherish you."
House replied, "I will be your home. You will be safe in me. I will protect you."
"I will paint you and make you beautiful."
"I feel beautiful already. For I am looking through your eyes at me. I see me as you see me. " and House was happy. "I will keep the evil outside, away."
"I will bring my friends here, House. I will fill your walls with good things, with joy and pleasure and shared pain."
House said, "Pain shared is lessened and joy shared is doubled."
I kissed the mantle. "I do."

And the realtor said, "Do? Do what? You like it? You haven't even seen the upstairs. Or the backyard or kitchen."
I replied, "I don't have to see it. Believing is seeing. I believe."
House smiled for the first time in many years. So I kissed it again.
Home. I was home.

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