The World Moves On
And so shall I.
We put so much stock in the worldly things that we bond to. When we build a house, we build it with the purposes of creating shelter, of providing a safe place to store our precious possessions, a space to set apart as our own and our private garden. Unintentionally, every house is built with hidden purposes that reveal themselves over the period of time in which the house is inhabited. A house allows a family to be born and to grow. It allows the acquisition of new treasures and new shared joys. It brings friends to a gathering place, provides a space to host events of joy and entertainment. When someone welcomes you into their home, they are giving you permission to tread into their closest quarters.
You enter a museum and gallery of their treasures, their memories, their past and perhaps their future. It’s their vault, their private retreat, their safe haven, their fortress. You are free to drift your eyes over the sites they see every morning when they first open their eyes and every night right before they fall into sleep. You brush your hand over walls that have reverberated under waves of joyful laughter and venomous words of disagreement. They may have captured the cries of a newborn or the last breath of an elderly parent. Cigarette smoke and dog hair are seen as pollutants, but they are just as much a part of history as the photos on the walls. Even dust, something swept away and blown off of surfaces, are tiny remnants of the people who belong in that house. Stains are not accidents, but signatures of the host.
Outside, that house may look like every other one on the block, and as you pulled up to the door you doubted if you’d found the right house. The family inside knows their own house. They know their front hedge and the ivy and the willow in the back. They know the kitchen lights at night and the curve of the drive. They know where the property line crosses and where the grass grows the longest. They know when their flowers bloom and how long it takes the mailman to stop at their box. Every action becomes a habit because every aspect becomes a routine. We water the lawn and wash the windows because that’s what we do in our house. That’s how we do things here.
The doorbell has a certain chime, the phone a certain ring. Their fridge is stocked with certain foods and their drawers with all their clothes. There is a distinct smell to their home that they have long since forgot exists as they have grown accustomed to it. They have things in their proper place and the guest is to observe with respect. This is not their house.
So much stock is put into a house. It is one thing that must always be built from the ground up, one brick or shingle at a time. It starts with a foundation and ends with a roof. Even if the original construction or design was not done by the homeowner, they make it their own and do just as much work making it home as the person who built it. We struggle and sweat to buy and own, desperate to call it our own in this brief, mortal world.
Home is where the heart is, and my heart is in my house. If that gets taken away, I don’t know where I will wander.
But then again, what is a house but wood and stone?
We can engrave our whole lives into a house and it can still be lost. We have a way of putting so much at risk.
All the risk in the world is worth it to gather the things we love under one safe roof.
“The world can’t stand what it can’t own, and it can’t own you ’cause you did not have a home.”