My roomates were talking about homes the other day. Cassandra said she was going to spend most of the night at home. Jason was confused because she had just said that she was going out. When she used the word home she meant her parents house and not the house that we all share.
To me this is home. It’s where my bed is and my books are. It’s where I come back to. But what is a home really?
I was for two years of my life an architecture major… I liked it. I was good at it. But the career that is architecture is just not for me. But I still think of houses… and following that… of homes in a special way. No house is a given.
I think my favorite definition was given to me a a seminar i attended by two female architects who primarily designed places of worship. I haven’t done them the honor I should by remembering the name of their firm, but I remember being impressed. The definition they gave me was about space. And that’s what a home is… space. your space. carefully delineated for various functions. And so when I think about a home I think about the various ways that the space connects. The way it becomes a space instead of just an empty piece of property.
And I am reminded of the fundamental question I was asked in school, which is ” what is the function of this building?”
A church s a place where people gather. so you design it to hold lots of people without making them feel crowded. large rooms with high ceilings and spacious hallways. But a house is designed to be lived in. It is designed to make easier the basic functions of existence. I have to get up in the morning and shower and dress and use the potty. So it is essential that there is a room for this…
In a special way, a house is really a study in what it means to be human. It’s an outward expression of our desire for comfort and closeness and security. We want a large living room with high ceilings to that people can gather and not feel crowded. We want a kitchen that’s eay to use but comfortablie homie.
All these things are a house… from apartments to mansions and everything in between. But what is it that makes this house in Lancaster my home, but for my roomate just the place where she lives?
I’d like to say investment maybe. I’ve lived here longer than she has. I own more of the furniture. But is that really it? My first apartment was never home for me. It was the place I lived. The first place I lived that was home for me was a sstudio apartment on a top floor in Philly.
But I lived there for just as long as anywhere else and a shorter length of time than some. So maybe not investment. Maybe it really is something to do with heart. Everything I loved was in the apartment, or coud be reached from it. It made my life easier and better. It was a joy to me.
I don’t feel the same way about this building, but I revel in the lack of the necessity of the second address line. I love the space for my stuff. I have a basement. I keep my christmas decorations in it. For the first time in the years since I moved out I had a tree that was real instead of plastic.
There’s a box in the Discworld series… the Cabinet of Curiousities or something like that. A complex filing system that can’t be understood by anyone who’s not an expert. And I think of a house like that. I know where things are in my house. I can find all of my stuff easily and with a minimum of bother. Not because it’s logically organized or even illogically organized, but because this is the museum of my life. The ultimate please touch museum.
I have a lending library that anyone who’s moved as often as I have (or even anyone who’s moved ever) will understand that I love. I have knick knacks and bits of paper that have made it through eight moves and several seasonal cleanings. Everything in this house is here because I want it here. It’s not as much work as building your won shell around you… but the same I think in principle.
A place where you don’t need to introduce yourself or explain yourself. The introduction and explanation are inherent in the place. This is your home.