2:2 – The Welcome Mat(s)

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 Lesson 2:1  asks you to explore and express your values and the stories you use to connect yourself to your sense of home. Remember what Thomas Kings says, “we are the stories we tell ourselves.” Remember what Edward Chamberlain says, “stories give meaning and value to the places we call home.”  And, take some time to reflect on the stories your grew up with that shaped how you value your home, reflect on the how these stories have shaped your sense of belonging, or not – to your home and your homeland.

I have exactly one hour and fifteen minutes at home before I have to rush out again for the next part of my day. Exiting the elevator I’m not surprised to smell cigarette smoke coming from the next apartment. I lean my ear towards the door, straining to hear if there is any activity inside. Thankfully I hear nothing. Opening the door, my suspicion is confirmed: no roommate. It’s a blessing. I’m tired and overwhelmed and I don’t need an unfamiliar presence intruding upon my precious moments at home. This roommate is new and essentially a stranger—my close friend who used to share the apartment, having recently moved out. She’s perfectly nice, but so far we’ve not ‘hit it off.’ Despite my seeming solitude, I rush into my room and shut the door anyway. I don’t want to risk it. Inside my room it is hot today. The window is open, letting the noise from the street waft in, but cool air does not accompany it. Light is reflecting harshly off the too-bright, white walls that I would have painted, if only I was allowed. I didn’t have time to make the bed this morning, so the sheets lie crumpled where I left them, along with a cereal bowl and half empty coffee mug. This isn’t how I like to leave my space and I hate the thought of leaving the mess until even later in the day. I duck out into the kitchen to wash the dishes, avoiding a large pile of dirty pans from the roommate’s dinner last night, and then quickly toss the bedclothes into slightly less disarray. One hour left. I have just pushed the switch to wake up my laptop when I hear keys turn in the door. I freeze. What little bit of peace I had is gone. Should I go out and say ‘hello’? Probably. But I could also hide in here, making as little noise as possible, and pretend to not exist.

. . .

It’s midmorning. A perfect Spring, Vancouver day. Except we’re not in Vancouver, we’re in White Rock, about an hour South. The sun is shining and gently warming my skin as I step out of my car in the driveway of my parent’s home. The flowers in the bed out front have grown tall and full, their petals spread so wide you can almost see them eating up the sun. I turn my key in the lock of the front door, swinging it open to reveal the bright entryway. No one is home. Both my parents are away on business. Moving further into the house, the first landmark is a big family portrait, framed and sitting on an end table, snug between two chairs directly in front of me. I might be ten years old in this photo, but we all look younger and happy, though slightly uncomfortable in our all-denim attire. I turn on the kettle in the kitchen and begin to make tea. It’s the first thing my mother does whenever she gets home, and the sound of bubbling water fills the otherwise silent living room. I don’t really have any reason to be here. There is no task to accomplish and I have my own, perfectly good home in the city, yet still I linger. I take my tea to the plush, wine-coloured couch and sink into it. My mother is not here to give me her regular plethora of hugs, but this couch is second best. Mom in Dallas, Dad in Kamloops. No siblings to speak of and my beloved dog recently passed away. And yet I feel them. The walls hold their presence and have absorbed their love like the flowers outside absorb sunshine. I gaze around the room at the photos covering our walls, from holidays or special dates gone by, and I feel the love there. This hasn’t even been our home for very long, having only moved from our previous family home one year ago. Somehow that doesn’t matter. I have two places I call ‘home’ but only one deserves the name.

 

Works Cited

“History of Afternoon Tea.” Twinings UK & Ireland. Twining & Company Limited, 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 June 2016.

Warner Bros., “Pretending I Don’t Exist *Harry Potter*.” YouTube. YouTube, 18 Nov. 2012. Web. 03 June 2016.

Welcome Carpet. Digital image. Harvest Life Changers Church. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 June 2016.

4 Comments

  1. Hi Julia,

    Sorry about your dog. I’ve moved around a lot in my life (I’m 25 and I’ve moved 27 times. Yep). Not an army brat or anything, just part of a family who has never owned a house and is always finding better places when the lease is up.

    I have begged and pleaded for a dog since I could speak and just last summer we finally got one. His name is Odin and he’s my favourite thing in the world and I have never had a house feel as much of a home as when I come home to him. I relate completely to the memories and feelings that a physical space can hold. A dog greeting you at the door is the most magical thing 🙂 (Tried so hard to attach a picture of him, but can’t) I think that the presence of a family/support group/people and animals who love you will definitely pop up on my list of similarities for the next assignment.

    Speaking of magical, loved the HP hyperlink. Laughed for real!

    Laura

    1. Who doesn’t love a good HP reference? I’m curious to go and read your story of home now. I can’t imagine having lived so many places and making them all feel like a home.

  2. Hi Julia,

    I loved reading your story, in particular the duality in it. I can relate to that on many fronts, the instant comfort of a parents home that is in constant conflict/contrast with my current life. This isn’t to say that one is necessarily better, or for that matter worse, than the other, but there is a clear difference between home (where you sleep) and home (where you’re from). I think what it boils down to, if I am reading your story correctly, is the presence (whether physical or etherial) of loved ones and notable experiences. Having recently gone through two abrupt life events myself, one involving a change in house, I can also relate to the awkwardness in feeling uncomfortable in the space that you claim as your own. If you have a moment I would love it if you read through my story and let me know what you think and get out of it.

    1. Thanks Sean. You totally got the gist of what I was trying to say. I will definitely take a look at your story for this week and see what it’s all about.

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