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Thursday, August 18, 2011

home for now

We moved house back in January and I still can’t find anything in the new house, it’s telling that all these months later I still think of it as the new house. When I want to get my breakfast I go into the kitchen and start looking for a spoon, I open this drawer and that, I cross to the other side and open more drawers, there’s a sound that comes of me being in that kitchen, it’s the sound of drawers flung this way and that, the metal in them from pots and pans , spoons and forks, knives and ladles hitting against their wooden prison knocking and asking to be let out except I can’t find what am looking for so nothing ever gets let out.

I thought this was a problem that could be solved quite easily, all it would take was cooking some meals, doing the kind of thing that would need me to go all over the kitchen and use everything that I could find but that didn’t happen am still as lost in this sea of utensils as I ever have been.

It not confined to just the kitchen though, all the other rooms in the house refuse to fit, the new shoe pinch just hasn’t gone away or maybe am like the guy in every looting scenario who by a cruel twist of fate carries off 5 pairs of rights. In frustration at my ignorance I have thought in my head and even said out loud “this house has refused me.”

Then I talked to someone about it and he has been having the same problem, it’s also someone else who moved house recently after living in one place for years and it seems to be quite a common problem(of all the people polled-2- the problem exists). You see before we moved we lived in the same house for 20 years, these were 20 of the most vivid years in my life, I grew up in that house. Whenever the word home was used my mind would take a virtual tour of that place and when I close my eyes I still can. I see the entrance and the white and blue floor of the kitchen. I see the kitchen door that we once locked ourselves out of and I had a hell of a time kicking down like they do on TV when they suspect there are drugs in the house. I can continue and walk into the sitting room and I can see the carpet and the chairs there, the roof was made of this white thing I never knew what it was but it had these little black spots in it and on some days I would lie back and look up at it like people do stars, the TV in the sitting room worked just fine except the aerial didn’t for the longest time, so it was a TV for watching DVD and nothing more. If I cast my eyes to the left I can still see the dining room as it was with one of those ovalish dining tables and a mini-chandelier like bulb hanging over it. I can still walk myself to the room, down the corridor that the house had(‘twas a bungalow), and before you got to the residential area of the house you had to walk down this corridor, to your right there was this door, a white metallic door that was put into these old houses for security reasons. It was like a window grill, not really a solid door, all white, metallic, with square holes and circles everywhere when I was younger I would swing back and forth on this door but as time went on it was locked less and less often till it’s place seemed to be stuck to the wall. Opposite this door was the bathroom/toilet complex. To get in here you had to open another door and be presented with two more forks in the road, one leading to the bathroom, the other to the toilet. If you closed all the doors you would find yourself in an octagonal shaped room with space for no more than three people tightly packed.

To go through to the bedrooms there was a door you had to pass, the latch on the door had stopped working so long ago am not sure that door ever actually closed all the way, it just swung limply back and forth like a before picture in a Viagra ad. I had a problem crossing this threshold. I lived in that house for 20 years and yet every so often while passing through this cavity my little toe would get stuck in the wall. As I passed the rest of my foot would get through ok but I misjudged the distance needed for the little toe and I would strike it against the door, it would get snagged in the wood and pulled back like a bowstring and hurt like an arrow wound, the pain caused by the momentum of my foot together with the stubbornness of the wall was excruciating. It was so bad I actually thought that my toe would come off one day, then I would heal and the mind would play that trick where it forgets how pain feels apparently to keep it fresh, then I would do it again and I would howl like a scarred wolf clutching my toe in my hand a bird with a broken wing where only strangling can help. I believed that I would feel that pain forever. I could never imagine a time when I wouldn’t strike my toe against the wall because there was never such a time. And now it’s been nearly 7 months without that particular mishap. I can’t say I miss it, who misses pain? but it was as much a part of home as the smell of embassy kings wafting from my father’s room spreading through the whole house. You see the door to his room had a glass pane over it, am not sure why, old architecture I guess, but the glass pane had broken a long time ago leaving this hole just above it. there was a time in primary school when I could pass hours lying halfway in his room halfway out and take a pillow and throw it through that hole and wait for it to come down on the other side, catch it throw it again through the hole, catch it as it comes down and repeat over and over again. That was at the end of the corridor before you came to the end was the turning to the room where I slept, my room the boy’s room.

Before you entered the room though there was a spot of the house that had suffered water damage for years. That house had one of those old boiler heaters where you would switch it on and wait for hours before the water was really hot, as a result someone would forget to switch the heater off every so often, especially at night. And we would all go to sleep with the water boiling, getting hotter and hotter, expanding and finally seeping out of the tank. Then the house would be shaken with a rumbling thunder, it would shake the roof and we would all hear it. then water would start leaking into the corridor, actually the water would start leaking long before the thunder because by the time I heard it and went to see what went wrong the floor was usually slick with too-warm water.

Then there was my room, I loved that place, have spent more nights in that place than anywhere else in my life and there’s actually a chance that statement will be true till the day I die. The room had a dozen transformations in the time I slept there but when I picture it it’s with different parts of it that I guess felt most like home. By the time we moved we had curtains of some sort, but I can’t remember them for shit. They may have been white or blue, with no pattern on them or the most intricate of details but who knows? Not me. The curtains I remember when I close my eyes had a thundercats theme. This cartoon am not even sure I ever watched with cats and jets and explosions in a dystopian looking world, I remember the main colours were red and black and violence, the perfect curtains for any little boy which is what I was when they were first hung up. But time ravaged them till they were torn everywhere, rags that wouldn’t keep out any inquisitive eye and as boys grow older they start to see the point of privacy so we got new curtains, but I don’t remember those. On top of the curtains was this wooden ledge, it ran the length of the room on that side and was a couple of inches wide. For a long time it was bare but now I can only see it in all its glory. My cousin and I started an alcohol bottle collection on the ledge, as time went by we got more and more bottles, expensive bottles of alcohol, Remy martin and Hennessey, scotch whisky and all types of wine a cacophony of colours and bottles. It was beautiful to behold. One of my favourite parts of the room since that was a montage that I personally contributed to. My brother’s bed was closest to the door and the most comfortable, a sinking mattress, a wide width, one of those cylindrical pillows, if anyone had a girl over that was the bed most like used. I slept on a double Decker below with my cousin on top, this bed was close to the TV and would be used too but with this bed the chances of a person hitting their heads on the floor of the other bed was a too-real and frequently hilarious situation. We had a mirror in our room, underneath the mirror there was a drawer. The handle to this drawer was broken a long time ago too, I can’t remember it or its existence, to open this drawer you had to use a hanger, stick the hanger in a space between the drawer and the rest of the structure and then yank it forward, this was where we kept important papers, result slips from educational institutions and such. If you yanked the whole drawer out there was a space behind it, and this was my special hiding place, I was sure anything kept there would never be found, in fact I left something there and I am itching to go back and get it.

Our mirror was clean, a perfect little mirror with no spots on it perfect for reflection so the girls used to come use it this was because the mirror in their room had a thousand spots, no idea where from. It was like flecks of cement would come and land on this mirror and they were all over. I would try to scratch them away and so am sure did many people but they never came off. This was not a room I spent too much time in. on the odd evening conversation would drive met there and whenever anyone came home to find people there the first question was always “what are you doing in the girls room?.” It looked out into the compound though and had these rose bushes growing just outside its window, on a good spring pink flowers would burst forth and it was the best room from which to watch the rain, am not sure why it just was.
You see I knew this house like the back of my hand, since that simile makes no sense I feel like I should turn it around and say about things I know deeply completely, honestly, in and out, I should say about such things that I know them like I knew the old house.Just like I thought that pain I got when I stubbed my toe would always be there, I can admit that in the back of my mind I thought that house would always be there. A constant rock, whether there was rain or a storm I could come back and find it. If I trotted the globe and saw all these places I always wanted to I knew that in the end I would come back and enter that house and feel all that familiarity. i knew it so well I could tell who was missing from the house without checking their rooms. All I had to do was enter the house and I would know just like that. I was never more at home anywhere else in my life but now it’s gone. It’s not mine any more and it’s going to be demolished soon and then it’s just dust and memories.

And truly this is the reason I can’t find spoons in this new house, it’s why I have no idea where anything is, it hasn’t refused me I have refused it. It’s my new home but I can’t make the mistake of attributing permanence to it any more. Am like someone whose heart was broken so completely and thoroughly that I put up walls that nothing breaks through. So my mind doesn’t bother learning or retaining anything at all about this house, everything washes away as soon as it begins to take root, because while its home I know its just home for now

1 comment:

  1. I had that same feeling when we moved house at 13, but we've moved so often since than that you'd think the feeling would have faded by now. But I still feel this compulsive urge to get a mortgage so I can have a home that is mine for good, one I can't be moved out of unless I'm in a shiny black box. I have no idea how though.