A moment – a sentence – that’s all it was – and my mind-set shifted as silently as the breeze shifted the curtains at my open window.
“Do you think…perhaps… would it be safe for us - and the residents above us - to hang up a little swing in this room for my son,” I had asked him.
He looked at me, he smiled his kind crooked tooth smile, and then our beloved Maintenance Man said,
“Of course! This is YOUR home; do what you want with it!”
Home. My home. Home. My Home: this apartment, these rooms, these walls – these temporary, uniform, mass-produced, walls – were my home. I hadn’t claimed it, because it wasn’t my ‘Forever Home.’ I hadn’t accepted it, because it wasn’t the house of my dreams – the house with gardenias climbing the expansive front porch and beckoning friends indoors with their sweet, sweet perfume and -----–
No, it wasn’t where I wanted to be after 8 years of marriage and two small children later… But mine. MINE. Yes, all mine, the choice was mine; how do I use my home, how do I see it? What visions of beauty and splendor occur inside these bland, identical walls? What colors of personhood and familial joy dance under the lights in my living room, and what notes of laughter send tinkling music – music oh so contagious - spilling down into the neighbor’s apartment below us? Yes, this was my house.
I had to ask myself in that moment, What is ownership, after all? Must I own my own gardenia-laden porch for the perfume of ‘welcome’ to bring our friends to our door? Do I need the freedom to build additions to my home when the freedom to build intentionality into THIS home is of infinite value?
As my pale blue and white curtains danced gracefully in the mid-afternoon lull, I felt humbled by the grace that fluttering cloth possessed while it waltzed with the wind, and I realized: The breeze that caresses Gardenias and flirts with my curtains is the same breeze, the same whisper of vitality cast across chasms of time and space; so why not the same me live the same way in my little long-lived-in apartment as I intended to live in my someday house? I realized, in that precious moment, through words of that dear, unwittingly wise worker, that I – the elusive “me, myself, and I” – was the only obstacle preventing my ‘long-lived-in’ apartment from becoming my ‘long-loved’ home.