Emptying the Soul of the Home

My home is not a place, it is people, sir.  – Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan, Barrayar, Lois McMaster Bujold

Today I am taking the art down from the walls of my apartment.  I started yesterday, and worked for a while, taking my finch collection and Jack’s dragon collection out of their frames.  We are getting rid of the frames; they are from Ikea, easy enough to replace when we get where we’re going, and too bulky and breakable for this trip.

I had to stop eventually, not because I was tired, but because of the shock of it.  It was the art, more than anything, that turned our plain, white-walled apartment with its tan carpeting and beige linoleum, into a home.  It brought colors to walls I could not paint, beauty to an empty space.

Some of them were mine.  Some of them were his.  But mostly, these are the pieces we chose together during our two years here, bought at arts festivals or on countless Friday nights spent in various downtowns turned over to booths and tables laden with creation for a few precious hours.  I hung them, because he told me I had an eye for it.  Some of them were clustered together; my collection of small birds in the dining room, his forest of bare trees by the front door.  The dragons, nearly all by the same artist, in the same size, wound throughout the house in thematically appropriate ways: fire dragons in the kitchen, water dragons in the bathroom.

Tonight, though, they are down, and it changes this place.

Though the books and trinkets were sold off or packed away, it still looked like my home.  Now, with bare nails exposed, the walls look indecent, empty, barren.  There are boxes in various states of fullness in every room.  Some pieces of furniture are gone, while others wait to be cleared to go to new owners. Others wait on Craigslist, still hoping to be chosen.

We have given notice.  It is too late to turn back now.

I am ready to leave the desert, though, to move to a cool green place that seems to have been created with us in mind. Although I’ve never been there, I long for it with something akin to homesickness.  Perhaps it is my spiritual home, the place I should have come from.

Regardless, I will miss our apartment.  We will build other homes together, and I will come to love them every bit as much as I loved this one.  But this was our first place, my first sanctuary from the storm, and the first is always special.  The other places are still hypothetical, bright fantasy places with lots of windows and room for gardens and rabbits and a portable forge, while these three rooms are real, are mine.  Were mine.  Will be mine, for two more weeks, and then they will belong to someone else.

Change, even longed-for, planned-for change, is difficult.  It is a surrender of safety and comfort for uncertainty and freedom.  But I have made this choice before, and I will doubtless make it again, because while I can be a creature of safety and comfort, I am happier when I make the hard choices.

So I have taken the art from the walls, and I have packed the books and the figurines and the toys, the tea and the dishes and the yarn.  I have destashed and decluttered and donated, and have more to go before I’m finished.

Eighteen days left.

I’m ready.

~ by Amber on August 11, 2011.

2 Responses to “Emptying the Soul of the Home”

  1. It’s so amazing the things we can do to make even a transient living space our own. 🙂

    I know that when we move, I always make the boys pack all the kitchen things, including the decorations, into boxes separate from the rest–it seems weird, because on the whole I’m not the most domestic girl, but there just seems something so right about a kitchen that is put together. It’s what I told Cendri when I was helping her move this last time: “It’s the modern hearth, the soul of the home.”

    The kitchen boxes are the last ones out and the first ones in, every time. And it’s the first room I put together: dishes washed and put away, food in the pantry, my art nouveau ladies on the wall, and a candle I light in the first moments I set foot in the space. Some day, I promised myself I’d have one with a fire place–and then it would all be so literal. XD

    I don’t know if it’s memories of my childhood and mother and grandmothers, I don’t know if it’s the cozy feeling of family, maybe it’s ties to household and family goddesses. Whatever it is, that settling ritual makes us feel right at home.

    Good luck with your move. May it be everything you dream of and more. ❤

    • I agree – in this modern age, the kitchen is the closest thing most places have to a hearth. It is the center from which all activity originates, the source of nourishment and comfort, and what is home but a place of nourishment and comfort?

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