On Earth there are three structures I once assigned the word, “home,” to, but living in this house for a year now I don’t know what, “home,” means anymore because I know I am not there.
Spending a day watching the shadows creep across the floor, from just before 9 a.m. until sunset at around 4:30 p.m., I struggled with a few new thoughts I had over the weekend. In only one year here I don’t know, yet, how the shadows make the things inside the house look. There is no familiarity. I look at the vinyl floorboards and remember the floorboards in the first house I called home, 12-inches tall, stained dark, varnish cracked with time, and know there is no possible way I would ever use what I see now in any structure I would own. The walls are white, and while I don’t know what I would use, I know it would include color. Today I broke an outlet plate, and rather than care, I know it isn’t mine so the accident means nothing to me.
Is this my home?
Is this the place I need to call, “home,” to achieve some level of acceptance?
Is this the house my two sons will remember as the place their transient father lived longer than any other place while always having their father’s house be something of an ill-formed memory of forgotten places?
Outside of thinking the same things, over and over, my mind has the ability to shove something wholly new into the cycle to add a wrinkle to the freak out. My sons might one day have children. Is this house going to be where Grandpa Justin lives, and will those grandchildren have their own ill-formed memories of this place? Will my sons have to explain to their lovers, their wives, their children, and their grandchildren, what kind of place Dad or Grandpa Justin chose to live in and to make them live?
This neighborhood changed, quite a bit, in twelve months, and as I am now the longest-tenured tenant save three among the nine houses one the block, I worry. Can this place ever be home? Is it time, or decorating, or simple concession this is where I am and where I likely will be for all the formative experiences between now and death, that will turn this into home? Do I surrender to the inevitable fact this must become home?
I do not want this to be home. To become home. I do not want my transience to end in a place where the only marks I leave will be a couple holes in the drywall and a few broken outlet plates.
What I desire is “Dad’s Home,” where my sons will know, and remember forever, what it means. “Grandpa Justin’s Home,” where future images completely independent of me caused by the scent of popcorn and evergreen are positive and known, absolutely, as a reminder of Grandpa Justin’s home. Selfishly, to find the place where I will know I am home because I know how it feels to be in that particular place.
Mistakes were made today. There were hopes, and there were things done, and one was taking down the tree and getting the living room back to how it was a month ago. Now, in the darkness, the imprint of my two sons, boys who put lights on a tree for the first time, is gone. Part of them is gone, and I am left sitting in a room without personality or any indication I was here, missing them, and wishing this place were home so I could feel them and not just their absence.
Now I should work hard. Harder than before. Whatever stone needs turning should be turned so I get to spend the next holiday season in a place I can call, without reservation, “home.” The effort necessary to travel the road needing to be tread isn’t something I believe I have in me. Perhaps, a year from now, I will remember the light, the shadows, the show I watched on television, today, and feel better due to some level of familiarity. Maybe seeing those things again, for a third time, will make them more palatable.
A better wager would be placed on me feeling as much a failure in twelves months as I feel at this moment.