“true, you have to be an expert to live here. part of the trick is not to go anywhere, lounge about, go slowly in the midst of the rush for novelty. anyway, besides the eats the big event is the streets, which are full of love — we hug and kiss a lot.”
– edward field
our house is not particularly styled. it is a decoupage of bits and pieces of what we love and read, and like to feel closed into our palms. the walls are pre-camera browns and blues, there are pictures scattered like reminders – the faces of love – drawings taped on every cabinet in the kitchen, rugs from faraway places, all older than the thin walls, exactly like every neighbor’s. but it mirrors the way i feel about myself now, after too many years tending to the presentation, i am ready to live in a space that is just a space. a space i hope we can move on from, but which gives us a place to be right now. safe, warm, grateful, together. i am ready to make a home that is not for someone else.
window light and open spaces are scarce. but we have too many books to fit in the shelves, all the kid detritus that warms me and makes me feel messy, slanted light early and late in the day that fits the way we live and think about ourselves. a neighbors jasmine crawls over our fence, and blooms like the sweetest part of life in spring and summer – the greenest, most lovely, borrowed treasure. i know the light, scant, elusive, moody, and too hot most of the time, the way it makes me work to work with it. we have music playing so much of the time that it is nearly furniture, it fills the space as much as our imaginations.
we all see too much comparing these days. we spin our tales, we paint the pictures of our lives, some are rich and full and real, some are the prettiest surfaces. it all seems so easy to pretend. but i am trying so hard to approach the shells of things as just that. and go about the business of filling them.
sometimes i avoid our house because i want it to look like the house i would dream. i wish it better matched the bones of us, the soul. my parents have a house built in 1880. i love it. it is home. old and rooted and layered with stories and lives, joys and loss. but theirs too is filled with books, pets, clutter, imperfections. so maybe the soul in ours shines through in the objects we pick as symbols with which to surround ourselves. we did not find the heart of our home by looking at one someone else made, and it sits well with me. it is like our outsides at fifteen and our hearts and minds at fifty. we found it by living and learning and collecting. we find our way with the light of love and memory, grounding us wherever we stand together.
last week, around four o’clock, the kids and i launched ourselves on a last minute drive to the ocean. after almost two hours, hastily packed, traffic slowing us like wind, i let them loose on the ledges of sand and collages of smooth rocks, down these stairs to the thing that had called us. oh, the way they find freedom like it is everywhere. i take it as proof that it IS everywhere. we carry it on our backs, in our cars, along with phones drowned in the pacific, the towels we left, forgotten, with the songs we sing, the questions we ask and answers we improvise about mountains and bones and how to fly, and when will daddy be home this week. we carry it on our skin with the salt of tears and wind. our home is in us, it is upon us, with sweet urgency. wherever we find ourselves, it is calling us to attention.