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How to Feed Your Home
This summer, I built Home. Not a proper home, not the sort of home that would impel a realtor to solicit the attention of prospective buyers, but a small, secret home.
For one person.
Home is a wooden hut, slapped together by inexperienced fingers. His roof is none other than the verdant canopy of foliage looming above him. Now and then, the wind soughs through his body, rattling his bones and loose planks and flimsy windows. Small creatures seek refuge in his corners, and crumbling leaves hide in his floorboards. But as bare as his exterior may seem, Home is full of hope. Home stands alone, day and night, awaiting the return of his creator.
In the beginning, Home was empty. His barren interior growled with hunger, beckoning me to fill him with the knowledge and the wisdom of the world he would never be able to see.
“Enlighten me! Enlighten me!” Home thundered, sending the birds resting on his shoulders skyward. I stood inside of him, pensive. My hand rested on his lungs, a makeshift fireplace from a cold night. His timber skin felt coarse and prickly beneath my palm. Home glowed a deep, golden brown beneath the sinking autumn sun, peeking at him through towering wooden sentinels marching back in uneven rows. Home’s throbbing curiosity coursed through my own veins, and through the roots of the silent witnesses surrounding us, bound to the earth.
“Be patient, Home,” I whispered. Home sighed deeply, releasing particles of dust and dirt from deep within the recesses of his heart.
How did I learn the language of the world? Where did I begin? How do I feed my Home?
Home welcomed the mysterious moon in his window, as he did each night, save for the nights when the moon did not come. My body returned to the dwelling place of my mother and father, but my heart remained within the tattered oak walls of Home, safer than any steel vault in existence.
Crawling under my blanket, I gazed into the inky night. Home wondered if the dusting of shimmering specks in the sky were holes, vacuums into an eerie, blank infinity. My mind wandered down inner pathways, roaming through full deserts and empty metallic cities, trapped within a bubble of silence. I gradually lost my grasp of the cold gray air and the foggy evening, receding into dreams and pushing away from the surface of tomorrow.
When dawn finally sang her ancient song and the sun bowed good morning and namaste, I rose and set off into the forest to find Home. Under my arm I carried my chest of childhood.
Home rested peacefully in his culture of sylvan solitude. I stepped over his threshold and, once inside, laid the chest at my feet. Home creaked and shuddered with anticipation as my fingers pried open the heavy chest, unlocking mysteries, thrillers, memoirs, poetry anthologies, books and novels.
For a long while, I read aloud. Home was all ears, savoring every word that rolled off of my tongue and into the crisp air.
“I would be lying if I told you that every book I have heard you read is a good book. But I would have to be horribly narrow-minded to believe that I did not learn something from each one,” Home once told me. I nodded silently, beaming. When we ran out of literature, Home became a classroom. I taught him about the biosphere, about how competition in ecosystems benefits neither organism, how it applies to the political and corporate worlds; I taught him about the mythology of ancient civilizations, about love and war, truth and morality, birth and death.
But Home’s curiosity was insatiable. “Bring me the ocean in a glass,” he said. I obeyed. I brought him a spoonful of sunset, a plate of northern lights, a pitcher of smiles from stranger to stranger, a blanket from my grandmother weaved with happiness and strings of laughter. We explored the impossible, the unobtainable, the infinite.
We were fascinated, our imaginations stretching beyond any boundaries and limitations we had ever known.
I almost forgot that the tangible world was a fleeting, fragile, and flimsy thing, no matter the hope bursting from within its walls.
Home burned down on the night of my birthday. When I came upon the remaining pile of ashes, I stood, staring, in complete disbelief. Several coals still smoldered in the fireplace from the night before. I stood empty like a cage whose occupant had disappeared.
And then out of nowhere, I heard a voice.