by Erin Rose Belair
The idea itself is so big I do not know how to write about it. I cannot find the front door, nor a window left open to slip through. The ocean is so big.
If I think about it briefly, home is still the drafty attic in Idaho with sounds of her downstairs, coming and going, and a quiet that rings like a bell. But, that isn’t mine anymore. So many things are not mine anymore. I’ve been putting them up on shelves so I can better hold on to what I have now.
Perhaps this has more to do with the space than I’d be quick to imagine. People say home is a person, but I don’t mean that kind of home. I want walls and marks on the wooden floor in which I remember where they came from. I want tea on the shelf in the kitchen. I want to unpack my books from the back of my sister’s garage. I want a place that will hold me so close I cannot help but keep still.
I want to know all about how we build new walls. I have an old slip of paper in a trunk that reads, “boundaries do not have to keep people out; they show you where your life begins.” I can sense myself wanting so badly to keep this part of my life safe that I do not want anyone else near it.
At my new home I unpacked things that I hadn’t seen in years, boxes tapped and labeled since I left that attic. Books like old friends. Here, the mornings are chilled and salted and the sea is so bright I cannot look directly at it. If I am ever gone from here it will be hummingbird wings and the kettle about to whistle, you crossing the room to kiss me, and everything dripping with honey. I do not deserve this I think at least twice a day. Maybe a great swath of this time is learning the insides of that word. Who am I to say what I do not deserve?
Sometimes the unexpected is exactly what you expected. Some ancient dreamy want on drifty seas that I made up in that attic years ago. You send thoughts out, they come back and knock the wind out of you years later.
My mother believes, and so do I, that we come into this life having chosen beforehand a series of lessons to learn. Whenever I fall on hard times or the grounds beneath me feel weak I repeat her words, Earth Time Is Hard Time. Our place is never without purpose.
At a later time in my life I will write about right now the way I write about then; how cold Idaho was and sitting on the kitchen counter. How back then I had no idea what might happen in those years. I talk about that time like a play I once read, a three act structure I learn from now.
I will write about this home and say things like: just after we met when we still hardly knew one another we rented a place in Laguna, where when you laid outside it felt like the ocean came all the way up to the deck. And it took us months to unpack everything we were carrying around. And we learned a lot about the word patience, and constantly drank tea, and made love like that ocean might creep higher and swallow us whole.
Sometimes a sail boat passes on the horizon.
I wonder where those people are going and how far they are from home.
The other morning the ocean was so gray that I could not tell where it ended and the sky started. You told me it’s because the sky and the sea reflect one another, and although I knew that was true already, it felt like a larger truth I could not wrap my hands around. The idea that they could be so separate and never touch and still be one in the same. The ocean is so beholden to the sky it will be whatever color it wants.
I do not know if any of this answers my questions about home or about building a home or what it means to come home. I do not even remember if that was the question I began with. Perhaps there is no door into this line of inquiry, perhaps we cannot an open window. Perhaps we must just build it from scratch and lay down outside in the yard. Perhaps it has something to do with being the most myself I could possibly be, and having a place to take a nap.