Refrigerator magnets, book shelves, lamps: the elements that go into making a house. What is needed for a home involves something more, though. Sure, it includes all those items that we come to rely on in our daily comings and goings, the ones listed above and so many more, objects we keep for practicality or sentiment, things we don’t think much about until we move somewhere and feel their absence. But a home needs symbol, meaning, memory. Spaces that in and of themselves hold nothing of significance unless viewed through the lens of a personal history shared by the few who have inhabited the place for some length of time.
If it’s the intangibles that people long for when they think of home-that chair in the corner where you read after a long day at work, that kitchen where you taught your children how to cook-then it’s a house Suzanne and I currently reside in, not a home, an apartment, actually and one in a development named Shady Place, where our first day here involved a visit by the police to check up on a former resident. “No, we have not seen that man and no he has not been back since we arrived.” Can’t say the place lacks a panache of sorts.
A temporary home is a strange concept because home implies stability. How can Suzanne and I begin to create something that requires time, only to leave it before the calendar turns over to the next school year? I don’t know the answer to that, and I know I should probably draw the spiritual lesson about our eternal home being our only real one, but while that’s true even here on earth we need still something to rely on, and Suzanne and I had just moved into our apartment in Germany that was only in the early stages of becoming “ours.”
But the project here has begun: We have been visiting local stores, obtaining public library cards, and filling and organizing our one bedroom place with enough familiarity and comfort to begin building this into a temporary home. Curtains went up today, windows and sills were washed, and a Goodwill run is in the offing. Most evenings have involved a walk around the neighborhood to get a feel for the lay of the land and see what is within walking distance. I mentioned to Suzanne that we have had enough experience moving into and out of various dwellings that surely we qualify for a television slot on the Home and Garden network. Perhaps they don’t have our new number here; the phone has been strangely silent.
Yesterday, we arrived back home to our apartment after a weekend at the Morton’s, a little over an hour’s drive away from us. It felt different walking into a place that was now furnished with our stuff and had a history, if only a week’s worth. It’s a start.