To Go Home

Direction, Devon Butler

I have homes. I have had homes; houses, in fact, that have been detached or semi-detached. I will soon have an apartment. I have places to go to and from; something to call my own at the end of the day as I crawl into my bed and pull the sheets up to my chin. I know where the cutlery sits in the draw and which cabinet door I should go to in search of my favourite coffee mug. I have physical places. But I have homes elsewhere. Sometimes the most familiar places do not neatly sit upon cement foundation and have archways or a threshold to cross. My other home is in memories and in the hearts of seven other people.

The feeling one gets from being around a familiar person can be just as comforting as placing a key in a lock, turning it open, and walking out of the past day and into your home. I suppose this emotional home of mine does have a foundation. It was based upon cement, but also has shoddy workmanship and corporate responsibility. It smelled of books, coffee and a faint odor of obligation. But then, once upon a summer, the house grew bigger.

We made many additions. What started out as two sisters soon became a handful of colourful characters: quiet, loud, crass, sweet, thoughtful and entertaining. Our playground was the city streets at night, running from one end of the city to the other, in search of adventures and places to call our own.

The back corner of the theatre became our TV room; the creaky, marked up table at the working man’s restaurant was our dinner table; the hotels we jumped to and from were our beds; and, in the bright early morning’s light, the parking lot was our front yard.

So this is where my home started. The neat thing about these kinds of homes is that they are nomadic. One by one we all left the physical place that we had grown accustomed to. Some left by choice, others by force, and yet our home still continued to shift and grow. Soon after that the distances started to develop. Like those other places of our house, renovations happened. Our TV room became sleeker and our dining room/kitchen became more family oriented. These changes were odd, unfamiliar and sometimes unnecessary. But then we were changing too. We aged, we became couples, we went to school, we got jobs and we grew-up. Our home started to creak and feel like it needed a change; a redecoration of sorts. Through the fights, the distances, the silent treatments, the things left unsaid, the exploration of other people and places, this home still stands. We come back to this place.

Our home sometimes needs a new paint job or something to jolt us back into the kind of excited place we were before, but those changes are minimal. The big changes make the home better. Perhaps I am just nostalgic and homesick already, before my own personal change makes a transformation to this home. But this place is just as important as any other physical space you go to. If you see a nick in the wall, your memory will trigger the event that caused it. When I look upon your faces, I see a myriad of moments, people and places that lull me back into a familiar spot. A hug feels like I am being wrapped in the same warm blanket lying so languidly upon my bed.

My apartment will be an extension of our home. It is but one additional place for M, A, M, S, L, C and N to be in. The foundation isn’t always the end point or conversely the beginning. It just exists for something to rest upon. Our foundation is no longer cold cement blocks.