Of Houses and Homes

Of Houses and Homes

Families with trauma make interesting patterns.  Families with Tourette syndrome in every member speak of genetic trauma to me.  I hear of families where one child is diagnosed and parents and siblings struggle and embrace and champion the neurological differences in their outlier.

But what of my family?  All of us are the outliers. To varying degrees, all of us have Tourette’s or a cousin of Tourette’s.  All of us.

As a child, and undiagnosed, I was fascinated with patterns. I picked them out in linoleum floors and whorls in carpet.  I found faces in wallpaper impressions of anything not actually faces.  I drifted from room to room picking out symmetry and asymmetry and generally lived in a world within the actual world.  I didn’t know it then but I was also observing patterns and cycles in the humans who inhabited those worlds with me.

All families have their issues and I neither minimize nor magnify the troubles faced by people joined in marriage or blood or adoption.  I do tire, though, of staring at the same impressions on the walls and trying to justify the face I see in what is clearly just a repeating pattern.

I often dream of houses.  I read once that to dream of houses is a dream of self-discovery. My dreams are usually warm and light with rooms that open from corridors that open from doors discovered in walls covered in patterns that concealed the opening until just this night, this moment, this slumber.

Sometimes you are all there – my family.  My mind has placed you in rooms in this home that may be mine or may be yours or may be no one’s at all.

Occasionally it is my childhood house but with a room that never existed in real life and you are not there. Instead there are people from my life now and I have placed them in the rooms but then can’t make sense of why they are present.  Suddenly they are out of context.

Often I am lost in some room that is ridiculous, with a carpet in the shower or wheels on the foundation or a door so small I am unable to overcome the claustrophobia of attempting to squeeze myself inside.

Sometimes it is a large house and it has appeared in previous dreams.  Somehow I know it belongs to my Aunt, now gone.  No more green eyes with grey eyeshadow, the smell of Listerine and hairspray, the stem of her glasses in her mouth as she recalls a phrase she read in a book on one of those many bookshelves lining her walls. Gone.  And  I have inherited the home, am still discovering its rooms and its worth.  Not its monetary value.  Its worth. As a home, not a house.

I watch you now from my house.  In the rooms of my home I think of the goings on in the rooms of your homes.  If our family was a big old house, where is your wing?  Are you renovating your set of rooms?  Have you drilled too far and there are too many holes to patch or have you built a wall of stone?

Walls of stone for privacy. A nod to you, my neighbour as we both take out the trash.  We could reason that it is better than dumping our trash into each other’s rooms.

Better to close off doors that communicate between our dwellings.  Better to keep myself safe from your version of housekeeping.  Better to have peace in my rooms.

Yet in my dreams I open doors.  I find new rooms, furnished, with books and soft lights from corner lamps and no smell of damp.  The ridiculous rooms with the carpeted showers are still cleaned, still respected, still accepted and used. In one dream I found a grand entrance.  Blocked off and unused for years then suddenly I opened a door and there was a staircase polished to dark honey in front of me and two richly furnished rooms ready to receive all of you.

We are united in many things. Our hope. Our faith. Our love for each other. Even our desire to protect our family.

I want to hold your beautiful children in my arms and bless them as our Aunt blessed me. I want us together. With our sins laid bare and our forgiveness like a carpet covering the stains.  With our hearts open like windows, our souls like doors.  With an understanding that action does not always match motive and motive match action.

I send this out like a prayer.  Always a whisper, now a shout. And I wait for the day this big old house becomes a home.

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