Today I am reflective of a colorful history. Of places and how the space sometime shows up so clearly in my mind. How many homes does a person go through? So many that I started to keep a lot of my belongings in boxes, not seeing any point in unpacking. Having too much stuff was something that I avoided because it would be more to haul around. I still feel that in a lot of ways. I wonder if it will ever be ok to unpack all my belongings and spend money on decorating the walls.
The nurses quarters that had been turned into a rental building, each room painted either lime green or sky blue. The kitchen floor was a checker board and the windows wouldn’t lock. I remember the bathroom across the hall and how there was only an old claw foot tub with a hose for a spout. The enamel was continually chipping to leave a dark grey under skin. That was the only time in my life that I didn’t like taking baths, because there was no option of a shower. The toilet was in the room next to the tub and the sink was in my bedroom across the hall. The bathroom was scattered. I lived there with my cat, Clem, who kept me company and made it feel much more like a home. It was so cold in the winters that I would open the oven and let the heat fill the apartment, that and many many sweaters. This is the apartment that I did paper mache at the kitchen table, wrote my poems and drank cheap red wine. I brought some butterfly cocoons and left them hanging by my window in the summer, I remember the day I came home to butterflies and set them free. This is a place that I worked many jobs and sold all my favourite books and movies so that I could eat enough and make the ends meet. I felt like I had nothing valuable left, and yet I didn’t feel poor. I read Charles Bukowski and loved his rawness. It was a beautiful way to live in its lack of luxury, and I revisit it every once in a while in thoughts.
I remember moving and leaving it behind. It was after I left for California and came back with no job and no home. Multiple snapshots flow through, the smells, feelings, of coming to a place but never really feeling like that was home. It was easier to stay compact, keep things in perspective. Sleeping on couches, finding temporary homes for Clem. Giving away things, purging belongings when I knew that I still needed these things. I told myself that it would get easier until I stopped caring if it would, I didn’t want to be constantly dreaming of the future, this was my life here and now. There were a few attics along the way. It is amazing how large you feel when you are living in an attic, like everything is getting in the way and you bump your head when you are getting out of bed. Trying to make a home out of a storage space. Yet there was beauty in the circular stain glass windows, in the narrow tub that wouldn’t sympathize when I couldn’t fit properly. The stairs that started every morning and ended every day.
I was at the top and then at the bottom. Basements with cool dampness and bachelor suites that absorbed all the noise of the upper floors. Dwelling beneath with water pipes, drooping ceiling and non-existent windows. These were cubby holes, dens that were closest to the earth, my own coziness. These places were passing through me, enough to push me forward and seek out better environments for growth. Without them, how would I know the different levels, the importance of packing up and being mobile. Now the habits have unwound within me, movement became a part of my life. I am always surprised when I walk into homes with dust, and layers on layers of stuff. What would it be like to stay long enough.