I woke up this morning feeling a little different about Honeychurch. I grabbed my coffee and tip toed around the front of the house just as sun rise was beginning to cast reflections on the window panes, just as the first birds of the morning were heralding reveille.
I felt distant from her, but not remiss. Actually, I felt like a man who had envisioned the perfect woman, saw her one day in passing, fell in love, asked her to marry him that day….but, she declined because she was already married. I didn’t love her less, I just felt suddenly….a distance from her. I would be here if she needed me but, like a gentleman, I would no longer impose my feelings on her.
I came back inside and spied the pile of provisions I had set out for today’s work. This week has been filled with deliveries. Paint, brushes, wooden sticks to stir it all up, rollers and extenders and finally, finally my stepladder showed up yesterday so that I could reach the trim and give Honeychurch her first new fresh coat of paint in years. Today was going to be the day, but after the landlord told me that this house was never going to be for sale, I started feeling naïve. I felt that I had over romanticized the situation, and felt a little foolish.
I have written about this house as though it were some southern gothic love affair. Staring at that stepladder made me realize that it was time to be a little more realistic about the situation. This is my home, but it is not my house. I can only love it to a certain point before her beauty, what makes her shine, is no longer my responsibility.
I began to remember when Phillip and I first discussed the idea of Honeychurch. I found this picture from about 5 years ago, when Phillip scribbled on a blackboard what Honeychurch really was: a little house with a garden, fruit trees, a big oak to shield us from the weather, and constant blue skies and sunlight. There we were, primitively drawn as stick figures surrounded by hearts, our cats nothing but scraggily sketches of wonderful, furry bliss running around the yard. I love this picture Phillip drew on the blackboard. He was the first of us to really draw out our dream home. And I’ll be damned if we aren’t living that right now.
But, there was one important thing about Honeychurch that was so vital:
Honeychurch was the one place no one could ask us to leave because it was ours.
Our dream was more than just an idealized perfect place to call home, it was that fundamental cog in the dream wheel: wherever Honeychurch is, it is ours….and no one would ever be able to make us leave.
You’ll forgive me, but once you’ve been homeless the ideas of grounding, stabilization and permanence become highly addictive on your list of priorities. Sometimes you don’t even eat you’re so focused on finding a place to rest your head without fear someone is going to ask you to leave, to move. A place you can stay for as long as life allows….
I put my coffee down and got ready to paint, but the rain set in, so I just sat on the rungs of that stepladder and embraced the idea that this is never going to be my house.
I’m ok with that.
But, for the meantime, this is my home and I do so love it here. I don’t plan on leaving any time soon and look forward to signing a lease again in six months. There is a stew simmering on the stove that smells of garlic, onions and care, there are bitter melons blooming along the fence, the cats are napping, the air feels warm. It feels like home.
And I’m ok with that, too.
But, if I were writing this as some delicious, eccentrically, southern romance, this would be the moment in the story the broken gentleman says, “I do so love you, I truly do. I always will. But, I’m looking for a commitment, Honey. Not an affair with Mrs. Church….”
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