by Kleitia Vaso

The house in which I spent my last five years can be considered unfinished, at best. It was meant to be a temporary place from the beginning as my move there was, if not unplanned, at least not carefully thought out. It wasn’t cozy in the traditional sense; half my belongings were stuffed into boxes the entire time I lived there and the objects already there did not belong to me. Everything was old and slightly uncomfortable and an appliance was sure to break once every two weeks, if I were to make a generous estimate.

I often cursed God and myself every time the water pump stopped working in the middle of a shower. In the best case scenario of this seriously unnerving experience both I and my roommate A. were home and whoever was the lucky/unlucky one not to stand under the abruptly halted hot water had to get dressed, go outside, open the heavy garage door, switch on the pump and hope that it would last this time. Whether it would was never certain and this fear endowed the apparently basic shower experience with a sense of adrenaline that should be usually reserved for paragliding or bungee jumping.

In the worst case scenario…I remember once when sick for two weeks in the middle of winter which is cold outside but freezing inside, that after taking the courage to shower after a few days of not being able to get out of bed, the hot water stopped right in the middle of washing my hair. My throat, which had just normalized, allowing me finally to start eating without great pain, began swelling with each passing second and finally defeated I actually started crying out loud, tears and all.

Yet, I really loved that house. I am almost ashamed to admit my love as I feel certain that anyone who has seen the house would not understand. I loved it precisely for its unfinished quality, for not pretending to be a home for all eternity but a modest temporary refuge. I especially appreciated its casual nature, the thought that I had discovered it accidentally on a walk, abandoned, empty, waiting for me like the house of the dwarves in Snow White, as in a fairy tale.

The place where I am currently staying offers even less of an illusion of being a home. It resembles a hotel room. I don’t plan to stay here for very long but one never knows how long. Again, I don’t mind its temporariness. The lack of finality allows room for dreaming and imagining of what comes next and makes me feel as a kind of a female Odysseus who intuitively understands that the journey might be the actual point; it is filled with more emotion, longing, hope than its culmination.

Certainly, at moments, tired by the discomfort that accompanies change, I yearn for a permanent home, an extraordinary one which by its very niceness will make leaving it impossible.  I desire its eventual existence more than anything yet simultaneously, I fear its permanence.

Constant change reminds me of the first time I carefully looked at a baby and truly noticed how both vulnerable and strong he was; vulnerable because she/he is not yet hardened by the elements of the world, air, wind, sun let alone others, be they natural or man-made and strong because of his/her flexibility, constant adaptation and change. At the opposite end of the spectrum, old people, hardened like a tree bark outside and equally rigid but more easily hurt precisely because of this rigidity, inflexibility. Assuming a rigid form translates to a kind of death. And death certainly seems permanent.

 

by Kleitia Vaso