Clothes are invading my room. Sometimes I feel that when I close my eyes they crawl out of my closet: a muffled rustling when I’m half asleep. That’s the only sign – that, and their sleeves winding round and under and between everything. It’s probably me, taking them out, trying them on and deciding ‘bleh’, but sometimes, it feels like those items of clothing are trying to take over the little space I have left; the little space I can call MINE in the world.
Kind of like this clip from Friends:
“You know how at the end of the day you throw you jacket on a chair? Yeah well, imagine that instead of a chair, it’s a pile of garbage and instead of a jacket, it’s a pile of garbage and instead of the end of the day it’s the end of time and garbage is ALL THAT HAS SURVIVED!!!”
It’s like when I was much (much, much) younger: my brothers and I fervently believed that the toys came alive at night. This was never a terrifying thought, but rather an exciting world of fun we could never stay up late enough to see. My baby brother Angus (now a twenty year old man with a rather hideous attempt at a moustache on his upper lip) believed this with all of his little heart. He would set up elaborate traps before collapsing into bed; an attempt to catch the toys while he lay comatose. Come morning time, the cookies would lie crumbled, and the traps were sprung: his excitement knew no bounds.
The toys never did come alive, of course. It was my mom. Like I have learnt the recipe for ‘home’ from my mom; my mom and Ruth, our housekeeper (the, in my opinion, crasser term is ‘maid’. Ruth was never just our maid. She was more than that). They taught me normal, they taught me the rules, they laid down the golden standard by which I judge all other homes.
As a twenty-five year old woman I have collected several homes in trying to find my own.
There’s my childhood home. My room – where I spent hours of my teenage and angsty young twenties scribbling in my journal, where I had my first kiss, where I had many, many sleepovers, where I got ready for my matric dance – is a shell now. It full of bits and bobs and books, and, when I visit, my bag.
Another home I have is half a planet away: Seattle, USA. My brothers and I visit my dad and his family every two years over Christmas. It is a home for us too, but in a very different way. It’s in a foreign land where my brothers and I are completely dependent on the parental units. We leave no belongings behind (except thick, snow proof coats) and are always squeezed in; unlike my mother’s house, which has rotated around us for ever and for always. This isn’t a criticism – who can build a home around people who aren’t there? But it is a difference.
Next up is my flat. Or, more accurately, my room. This is my third flat since moving out and trying to Live Like a Grownup. It’s also the one with the least space and the most flat mates. It’s nice, but it isn’t Home like my childhood home was Home. It’s a place to sleep and store my belongings.
Lastly, there is my boyfriend’s flat in Joburg. I call this ‘home’ tentatively, but it is where I stay when in Jozi (sometimes for weeks at a time), and this is the place I mean when I lean on the Boyfriend’s shoulder and say, “Love, let’s go home.”
So I guess the lesson here is that home is about people. Pretty lame and a little Sesame Street-ish, but true. Feeling lonely in your flat, even when surrounded by people (some of them pretty awesome) – that isn’t a home. And when The Boyfriend and I take the Big Leap into living together, maybe then I will have found my own, my one, my Home.
“Home is whenever I’m with you…”