We could live anywhere. We can choose to live in any city or town or province where we can afford it.
It feels like a very permanent choice, since Todd and I are looking to buy a place and have a baby, though I know we could manage uprooting again. We’ve had a lot of practice, having moved over a dozen places throughout our fifteen years together.
The place we lived the longest — 5 years — was a tiny apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. That area still feels most like home, probably because we became adults there (as much as we’ll probably ever become adults) and made most of our friends there. But things have changed, and friends have moved on or become something a little different than friends, the figures of friends. They’re like stars that you can barely see because of all the other light in your eyes, and when you do notice them, you’re seeing the memories of them, the light from a while ago. New York may feel like home mostly because of the memory of it being home for so long, but I’m not sure it’s home anymore. Just a twinkly, old galaxy.
We have both rented since we moved out of our parents’ houses, so we’ve never had the experience of a place truly being our own. To have a little spot on this planet where no one will get mad at us for scratching the hardwood, making too many holes in the wall for shelves, or replacing the fixtures, seems an exquisite relief. In the same way that taking long walks in the forest somewhat quiets the anxiety we didn’t know was vibrating in us, I imagine that this freedom will allow the last few internal strings to fully relax, to detune to stillness for the first time ever in our lives.
My piano teacher once told me how she used to have a bathroom entirely made of glass. I imagined it having glass walls encasing the shower and I also pictured it having a frosted glass entrance and several large mirrors. She explained that after learning that her newly born son was mentally handicapped, she took a baseball bat to it all. I don’t remember what she was trying to illustrate with that story, but what stuck with me is how fully she expressed her anger. That the expression was allowed.
I’ve been sitting on a massive pile of anger for a few months, after having a rough time with a new boss. A while ago, I slammed a glass in an almost reflexive attempt to express some of this anger, but as soon as the glass left my hand, I was immediately concerned for the soft floors, where it would leave a big-toe-sized dent. For a fraction of a second it promised catharsis, a full expression of my emotion in that moment with the potential for a contended release at the end. But the onset of insecurity about the floor undermined the power of the gesture. Ultimately, it felt more like pulling out.
I long for a glass bathroom I’m allowed to take a bat to. This would require some sense of security that it’s not a big financial problem to fix it. Getting to the point where we have enough money to make a down payment is a warm and fuzzy feeling, so I’m irrationally confident at the moment, content to imagine only the best possible scenarios such as having enough financial security to break something immediately upon officially owning a structure of our own.
We also have a few other ideas. Todd wanted to build a rooftop garden in our current early-20th century rental, complete with automatic irrigation, but I vetoed this, worried about impending water damage. I’d like to have a more sound-proof recording area, which would involve installing either a premade booth or redoing the century-old windows and adding some expensive padding. This would allow for as much operatic experimentation as my vocal chords could tolerate without the neighbors calling the police either out of frustration or concern. I also like the idea that I could just scream if I felt like it without worrying what people would think.
Not having to think about how I’m going to remove something before I even install it would be a mental relief, part of that tension release I imagine Home-ownership providing. It’s also part of the illusion of permanence. That permanence is something to revolve around, giving us some gravity after being weightless for so long. We’ll just plan to be in that spot, without planning to be anywhere else. It’ll really be Home, where can do whatever the hell we want.