So often do I want for home, for family. Where others seem so happily sheltered by their place and blood, I have long felt transient in both. Houses and kin have been left behind, their memory a mine once rich caved in with time, or burned quite literally to ash. I make wishes through my words upon the page as though each one a star, that somewhere close and sometime soon I may yet find a place to carve out my foundation. On it, I would erect my walls and ceiling overhead and replace my mantra of I’m going to for a rug before the door that reads I did. But not yet. Now, I beg through a smile for shelter from those who would rent their precious slums. The furrowing faces of lenders speak scoldingly of incomes mythical yet necessary to indebt with mortgage. Nowhere will have me, and so I will have nowhere. Within these walls that shift and change their height and color from one year to the next, the air in my lungs feels sick for home. There is none to be had, but still I must breathe.
So I step out from a room that isn’t mine, to a hallway and a door that isn’t either. Long ago, home did exist, in some small village now so far away. I go there. I see the house from the outside and know I will never see it any other way again. In my mind, my mother and father are there, like grains of sand that escaped the hourglass only to be swept away with wind. I take a breath of this place, and stumble down to where my legs once much smaller carried me. There are no houses now. There are no faces either. It is only then as I stand under open sky, amongst the trees and atop atop familiar train tracks that I realize what was once thought wanting for had been mine all along.
My home has never been a house. It is not made from walls, floor, and roof, but an expanse wide and high as eyes can see and memories recall the borders. Beneath my feet lies a tract of earth that stretches East to West, a liminal hallway of thick planks and gravel lined with banisters of metal to guide me however far I wish to walk. The pungent scent of tar below enriches the air, swells up with points me on towards a million destinations. My rooms await along the trek, beyond banks adorned with sweeping brush, over paths that spiral up or down to brooks and beaches, and hidden nooks that solely I the tenant know from where to leave the track and find. In these places, my beds are made from moss stitched deep across a frame of stone, providing better rest than any built within the confines of man. The bath of a house may wash my skin, but the lakes and streams here possess the power to cleanse one’s very soul. Yet should I choose to simply roam, solely seeking somewhere beautiful where my heart can hum, I may look around from anywhere I stop and be already there. Long ago, a train must have cut the cord from my belly to the earth, for it feels as though the truest womb from which I was born.
I look over my shoulder to see the swelling river, a turquoise dark and rich that is surely the color of my own blood. In us both, I see the mountains. They offer more protection than I had ever felt from panels and paint. I feel their weight as my own, and look upon the great hills expanding at my sides, these walls of my residence coloured emerald or amber or diamond, trees raised high that through the seasons watch me grow. My heart is made from their wood, and I have been carved a marionette made to move my limbs beneath their own. The mountains and forests are the family with which I share my home, and I find within them my primordial belonging. Here, we resonate. I need no stairs or rail to reach the highest floors. Eagerly, they invite my steps onto their peaks, drinking up each drop of sweat towards their heart. Yet even when I reach the top, something in me carries on and higher, where sky designs no apex.
Shining down unfettered is the sun, a paternal guide ever watchful of his son’s dominion. Beneath the sky, I fly beyond my station, carried world’s light. All this while standing in one place. I am boundless and free as the open air and no roof overhead could ever bring to me the life given by the blue above—or black. For I have stayed out long and watched the sun drift dreary now to rest. Pinks, reds and oranges dwarf even Sistine magnificence, before the colours give way to a bejewelled abyss worth more than any treasure. These are the true beings on which to wish, yet I feel as though I needn’t. I go pale but am no longer sick, the colour of my skin gone like the sun yet shining just as wildly under its maternal replacement. I reach out my arm, and see the sky and I are one. The moon illuminates me and my home, and I am brought to silence.
But there is nowhere to go, for if home was what I sought, then I may stand now in this radiant land and know I found it. It is the ground and path beneath my feet, pulsing with my steps a single heartbeat. The forest and summit carry me inside a gentle clutch, and it is the sun and moon above, reflecting in my eyes all there is within my world to love.
I do not want for home, nor family. I am of the earth.
About the Author
Greg Elliott is a Law and Justice Studies graduate and current Creative Writing student at Selkirk College. A lifelong resident of the Kootenays, the bond he shares with his homeland is reflected throughout his writing, and is something he intends to maintain through future projects of varying genres.