July 15, 2010

Katie doesn't live here anymore

After that journal entry last night (or rather, early this morning), I lay down my pen and promptly burst into tears. Deep sobs, welling up from my center. Lately the word "home" has been catching me out; it comes up in a song on my iPod, I overhear it in conversation, or walk past a wooden cutout in the homegoods section at work, and for a moment, two moments, three, I am paralyzed. Home?

Even in the safest places that I've lived, I've never felt like it was my home.

In the midst of my tears, when my nose was stuffed and I couldn't breathe and all I could see behind my closed eyes was the peeling wallpaper, ugly furniture, and cracked floors of the disgusting little place that I grew up in, I got up to grab my tissues, just two steps away from my bed, and I was stunned by something, in the two steps back across my hardwood floor. In the forgiving glow of my bedside lamp, I noticed, as if for the first time, the things that were in front of me right then. Two soft, bright white pillowcases on two new high-loft pillows. Gentle music coming from my sky blue iPhone, laying on the clean white sheets. A story I had written, sticking out from under my favorite bedspread. My fingernails, freshly painted, bright pink. Even the tissue box in my hand was pretty.

The contrast between my memories and what was all around me was astonishing. And though I was still crying, still feeling my losses, it helped to soothe me, seeing those things. It grounded me back in the present. These were my things, my choices. Not my parents' flat, stained pillows, two or three slipped into each limp, faded case. Not their dirty beige phone with the twisted cord. Not their secrets, not their filth, not their lies.

I am doing things differently. I wrote that big, in my notebook. If I give my children a beautiful life, and they totally take it for granted, then I'll know I did it well. I want them to have so many things I never had -- but more importantly, I want them to have none of things I did. (Except maybe Jill. They can have her.)

Yesterday I bought a few things: brightly colored mixing bowls, pots and pans. When I think of a home, I like to picture these things in my cupboards. Bright, and cheerful, as I aspire to be. I like to imagine what it would be like, to have a place that was only mine. Where the rules were my rules, and the philosophy was my philosophy, and all of the things were my things.

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