How to Thank a Home

May 7, 2012 Comments Off on How to Thank a Home

The day before he was to leave Caladan, Paul Atreides asked Thufir Hawat if the thought of leaving made him sad. “Sad?” he responded. “Nonsense! Parting with friends is a sadness. A place is only a place.”

I am a bit of a pack rat. I try to keep it in check, but I love books and I rarely get rid of clothes because I hate to do laundry and I need the backups. I hold religiously on to every notebook I have ever begun. Part of it comes from the superstitious hoarding practicality of a Depression-era mother of five, but part of it is spiritual…or whatever word you want to use.

I love things. It’s not the same thing as being materialistic, which has to do with a compulsion to have. I don’t want things, but I love them. A rip in the cover of a paperback book can make me cry, because I love it and I owe it good treatment. It’s the way I feel about almost everything I own, and about where I live.

I love my apartment. It took me a while to settle in, but now I’m pretty well settled, unpacked and so on, no longer restlessly moving furniture around. And last month I started looking for a new place to live, because Simon wants to move and I can’t afford this place by myself. It makes me so sad. I miss it in advance. I feel almost desperate gratitude for good-natured shelter and I feel like my at-homeness has seeped into the walls and it is cruel to take it away. A place is only a place, but a home is a home and can’t be discarded lightly

I’ve decided to show my gratitude in the manner of an anxious divorced parent who wants her son to think that this past weekend at her house was the best time of his life. I’m going to spoil the bejesus out of my home before I have to leave. At present that means putting up pictures and keeping it very clean.

I keep coming back to a story I read about someone who went riding down a trail that, at one point, narrowed almost to nothing, with a steep drop to a river on one side. She shifted her weight so that if the horse started to fall she could leap clear, and the horse turned and looked at her and wouldn’t move; he knew exactly what she was doing. It was only when she agreed (by settling herself firmly in the saddle) to stick it out and trust the horse that he consented to go forward. It must be a particularly apt metaphor in my life at the moment, because I keep having to tell people about it. But I think I owe it to my home to keep settling into it and not spend all my time from now till August preparing to jump ship.

Places aren’t only places, anyway. Some places are. A Wal-Mart is only a Wal-Mart. But there are spiritual places, thin places, that are much more.





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