At what point does a house become a home?
I remember when I first moved in to my house, about a year ago. Although I loved the place enough to condemn myself to thirty years of debt for it, everything felt wrong. The floor was too hard. The rooms too musty. Even the roof was too red and the walls were too white. This wasn’t my house. This house belonged to someone else, someone old who likes yellow tulips and owns a pair of puppies: Precious and Sir Woofsalot.
Somehow, though, in that year, things changed. Now, this house is my house. An old couch I bought for twenty bucks, a bookshelf full of comics I’ve read dozens of times each, a medicine cabinet I bought and installed myself… each of these things I’ve used to mark the house. It belongs to me.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ve been marked, as well. Do my clothes smell the same way my house does? Did I always have a latent interest in gardening, or is there something in the soil in my backyard that seeped in through the soles on my feet? I find myself feeling casual in a neighborhood that used to intimidate me, and I wonder if I changed on my own, or if this house changed me.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when the house started to feel like home. In fact, there are still times when I can still remember how alien the place felt to me, like when you repeat the word “chalk” over and over again until all you can hear is the sound of the individual letters, until all meaning behind the word has dropped from your memory.
So I guess there’s still that question. I have a house. It’s a tottering old thing, nearly a hundred years old, and, like many old things, it’s got this persistent leak downstairs no one can fix. It’s maybe not the home I can claim for the rest of my life, but it’s my home for now. And, for now at least, it’s a pretty good little home.