Where I Belong

By: Brooke Reinink

Tags: A Way In the Wilderness Fall 2022 Issue

Where I Belong 

The house I grew up in, the house I moved to when I was 11, my dorm, my apartment, and my friend’s house are all places I’ve called “home”. These places were familiar and comfortable to me in the sense they were the starting and ending points to my everyday journey into the world. Except these places never were my home, they never were mine. I was forced to live in the first two houses because that’s where my parents lived. It was convenient for me to live in my dorm and in my apartment because both were so close to the university I attended. While I adore my friend’s house, I am a visitor in it rather than a resident. No, I don’t belong in those places; my belongings were only stored in them, waiting patiently for their rightful place. I too am waiting like a trunk full of old photographs, and lost tokens to be taken down from the attic, and have myself spilled out onto the kitchen table, propped on the hearth mantle, back where I’m supposed to be. 

I do not dream of my home; I buy items for the kitchen or the living room, I scour the Internet for property listings, and I talk about it like I’m already living in it. I write in my diary, “One day I will leave, and be free from the house of angry shouts, the bare, dusty streets leading to no future, and the church that promises the sole company of a few wooden planks nailed together. I will vanish like a childhood memory, and the memory of the place I grew up in will lift from my shoulders like fog…”

To the forest I will take sanctuary and resurrect an abandoned hunter’s cabin to the life I will have in it. I will leave the ivy bound to its beams, but will clear a path through the undergrowth to its door. In time, I’ll have a door knocker resembling a lion’s head because I am fiercely proud of my home, and those that will dwell in it soon enough. 

My hands will paint the walls in gold where the sun likes to visit most, where it extends its rays in welcoming embrace. In other spots the walls will be left as a blank canvass in anticipation when my child and I will scribble on them because I will never punish a child’s desire to make beige, and grey places vibrant. Paintings I’ve found at thrift stores will hang on those walls beside shelves holding my mother’s figurines of little girls dancing, sowing, being in love. 

Each room will be different not because each has a different function, but a different feeling evoked. In my kitchen, there will be gratitude not just for the food given, but for those that make it; for those that gather the herbs, and hang them to dry from the ceiling; those that add a little bit of spice or sugar for enrichment; those that brew a cup of tea to cure the sniffles, and those who stick their drawings on the fridge for everyone else to admire. My family will sit around the dining table in that kitchen and say a prayer of thankfulness every night. 

There will be relief from long, hard days in the bedrooms, solace will come when soaking in the bathtub, peace in the sunroom, contentment, even moments of joy in the living room because here I am in my home, laughing with the people I treasure most around a burning hearth.  

And if there are days when I or anyone else cannot feel anything at all then there will be the library to disappear into, and think someone else’s thoughts for a few hours. The library will be at the back of the house for optimal quiet, and so that wandering onto the forest trail to read in a hollow nook or on a blanket by the brook is easily doable. Perhaps once the library was a large room, but with all the books that I’ve bought, forgot to return to the local library, took from free library stands, and was given for Christmas, the room will seem very small. Books on shelves, books in a heap on the floor as leftover of someone’s Sunday afternoon, books acting as tables for half-drunk teacups—the library shall be a shrine to poetry, prose, books on the rose, on stars, on lands across the sea. 

My father only kept books on business, and what a stale, short life did he have. Be free, be blissful when you read in my home, please. God forbid you only read what the church library accepts. (What sad, empty shelves they are, indeed). 

Though my home will be alight and warmed by candles, and cozy from soft blankets, going out to tend the garden will bring about a comfort elicited from green, growing things. My garden will not be an afterthought or decoration to the house, but a necessity of it. Nor will it be a few marigolds or mum’s planters enclosed in mulch. Rather, it will be cluttered with colour and by that, I mean it will have fiery rosebushes, pink apple blossoms, deep green leaves, and winter gentian blues. I want a fountain trickling in the center, and a pond thriving with bulrushes. Hidden in the ivy will be stone statues of tragic heroines. Perhaps, I’ll let gnomes stay in the flowerbeds. The garden will be both wild and sophisticated enough for me to tell my child that yes, fairies do live here. Let’s leave little cubes of sugar for them! 

While I see myself married in my home, I can only picture my friend and I in our shared glass greenhouse, gathering vegetables into our baskets for supper. The herbs are in clay pots that she molded from her pottery wheel, but some lay in cracked pieces from the cats’ knocking them over. Gentle light is streaming through as we work to our favourite movie soundtrack. 

Her house will be down a forest trail from mine, and every so often I will walk down that trail laden with last autumn’s leaves, cat and kid in tow, and join her for a glass of wine. 

My home may seem like nothing more than a scrapbook of wishes and wants. Its face morphs all the time, looking like a Romanticist’s rural homestead one day to a witch’s cottage the townsfolk whisper about the next. It’s true that not everything I picture about my home will come to pass, but I must hope that much of it will. Many would call this planning escapism and tell me to be realistic. I could argue against that, and I almost did write the argument onto this page, but I didn’t want to ruin the illusionary tour I was giving, so I’ll end it with this:

It’s a lovely place to visit, my home. I go there as often as I can to sweep the floors, figure out the best curtain pattern to match the rug, stock the pantry with canned jams and honeys, and fix the loose boards. Boxes mostly fill the space waiting to be opened and spilled out into every corner of the home; into where they’re supposed to be. I too wait for the day when this will no longer be a dream of a home, but my dream home.