Homelessness is a long, drawn out aching that no substance or therapy can improve. At various points in my life I have struggled with homelessness as a real possibility. I never ended up on the streets, but I have friends who did and I was never far away. After leaving my parents’ house, I bounced around from one dysfunctional situation to another. A bad marriage, bad jobs and always in bad housing. I was slowly being dragged along the bottom of society like the Titanic and that fateful iceberg. The threat of homelessness wears at you. I tried to drag some semblance of my childhood home with me where ever I went. A favorite toy, a book, and some memorabilia from a long distant event during good times were often the only home I could cling to.
I met my current wife, and life improved. She made a home for us, and despite my best attempts to ruin it, she managed to piece whatever was laying around together into a home. When we had children, home took on a new meaning. Everything was notched up with increased responsibilities and stress, but also the opportunity to build from those joyful moments only a parent can know. Home changed and with the deaths of our parents, the thoughts of being able to go back to a childhood home died too. Home was here, now and very real.
After a long struggle with addiction, my life was altered when I attended my first Narcotics Anonymous meeting and started learning a more spiritual life based on the twelve steps. Scrapping together a meal, borrowing from one to pay another and scrounging up enough to reconnect the power slowly faded into the past. Opportunity flourished, and home became about stability and the decreasing threat of poverty. Stability brought us to a middle-class existence, and our home filled up with material goods; new bikes, antique furniture and a decreasing concern about needs.
Finally, we had arrived at the point where we could purchase a house. Our home at the time was held together with love and memories but bursting at the seams. The house was too small and in desperate need of an overhaul. It had been our home for over a decade. We purchased the property and financed much needed renovations. The work was going to be so extensive, that we had to move our three pets, two children and one marriage to a single wide mobile home that howled in the wind. This was where we placed our home while the house we knew was to be gutted and painstakingly reassembled. My wife and I hugged in the driveway for the last time after removing the accumulation of life before renovations could begin. We wept and shared with each other our fears. What if we had no home to come back to in 3 months?
Each day I stopped by and watched the destruction of my home. I grew anxious with each nail pulled and felt every cut of the saw. I stood one time, wet from rain, in the hallway looking at a skeleton of old and new wood. Soon we had a solid roof, and the rain stopped coming in. Nerves of wire and pipe gave the house a new vibe, and our dreams started to take shape. Finally, after drywall, stucco and a fresh coat of paint we were able to return. I was apprehensive of this new house, and worried that we had lost our home under some new footing or in one of the frequent trips to the dump.
We never lost our home as it turned out. Homes are built on an investment in time and the return is memories. The memories we shared, the items we cherish are simply reminders of past homes. Each moment we enter a new home, full of memories of past homes and opportunity for future homes. Our daughters withdrew to start making homes in much-deserved private rooms. We delighted in the sound of two flushing toilets and a room just for laundry. The house breathed easier and so did we. A more beautiful home has never existed before. All who visit and dwell even for a moment, become part of the tapestry of our home.