Monday, May 11, 2009

Lost and Found : Homeward Bound

Image via the incredible Jon Klassen

Home. The word evokes a certain wave of feeling accompanied by images of a warm hearth or a thoughtful spread. The idea of home seems simple enough: a place to lay one's head, a roof to shelter you from the elements, a quiet respite from the pace of the outside world - maybe it will even yield a pleasant memory or two. I grew up in such a place, so I believe it exists. Somewhere along the way, though, the importance of home seems to have gotten lost in the name of job performance or the challenge of living on slave wages. As I've discovered after many eager home-finding attempts turned wary, home is not such an uncomplicated concept as I'd hoped.

There is first the way you feel when the manager-on-duty (or, in some of the unluckier cases, the realtor-on-duty) turns the key in the door (hopeful), second, the way you feel upon occupying the entryway (fresh, that new paint smell), third, your thoughts upon discovering the master closet (where's the rest of it?), fourth, your thoughts on hearing the owner's asking price (are they serious?!) and finally, turning to your fellow home-finding mate and admitting defeat. Again.

There is the quickness with which a week passes (wow, it's Friday again already!), the precedence climbing the job ladder seems to take (just one more year like this!) and the prioritization reality forces upon you (credit card debt, anyone?)

There must be more to a home than those aforementioned simplicities - intangible qualities that make you feel cozy and secure and nested. Yet, they can't be as impossible to recreate as they seem in the throes of this current plight. It reminds me of one of my very favorite childhood storybooks,
The Lost & Found House. I doubt it was ever very popular or widely-read but it is a sweet, tenderly illustrated little tale about Cricket the mouse and his search for a place to call his own. He didn't mind committing to hard work or lengthy repair processes, and he seems to believe that even though his first home was lost and swept away, a new home could be created in its place. Despite stormy weather, unfriendly landlords and a particularly serious cold, Cricket pressed on, undaunted, and eventually found his way home.

Faith, persistence, togetherness. Sometimes the simplest lessons are best.
There in the corner was a tiny house. It was slightly falling apart, but it looked empty. His heart thumped as he pushed the door. It creaked open. Inside the house, the floor was covered with odds and ends, and broken bits and pieces. He went upstairs. There was nothing there but a rickety bed and a mattress that needed stuffing. The place was really a shambles.

Cricket set to work at once. He swept out the odds and ends with a broom. He glued the broken bits and pieces back together again and stuffed the mattress full of soft hay. He made new shingles for the roof and put up the fallen shutters. Then he painted CRICKET'S HOUSE on a sign and hung it over the door.
The Lost & Found House by Consuelo Joerns (1979)

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