Sunday, July 11, 2010

Defining Home

You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone. (...) You feel like you can never get it back. It's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist.
(Zach Braff as Andrew Largeman in Garden State)

When I was a kid my parents moved around a lot. When I was born they lived in a certain neighborhood, but I took my first steps in a completely different location; I remember a Christmas party when I was 4, in a third place, and watching the Muppets when I was 5 in another.
When I was 6, we moved to a smaller town, Petrópolis. And though we lived in three different houses, they were all on the same street. And we stayed there for almost 10 years.
First we lived in this cute small house, with a front yard, and windows only one meter away from the floor - I spent a lot of time jumping in and out of them, pretending I was living big adventures! For one who had been raised in apartments, a house was a world full of wonders. And one fine day, grandma arrived with this tiny labrador puppy, white as snow and with a red ribbon around his neck. He had come inside a carton box, and he could barely poke his head out to look at me. I named him Rolf - because of Rolf of the Muppets.
Also, there was this really tall boldo stalk in the garden, with leaves that felt like velvet. I decided it was a she, and called her Gertrudes. And on my bed was Pimpa, the stuffed Panda bear my grandma had brought me from one of her trips.
A couple of years later we moved to a second house. It was huge, and it had the cutest porch ever! In the back, stairs that led to a terrace - Rolf's realm. I took Gertrudes in a vase with me, and she lived in my window. And though by that time there were shitloads of stuffed animals on my bed, Pimpa was still in the centre.
When I was 11, we moved to a third house. It was gorgeous, all in white and salmon. There was this huge yard around the whole house, with Rolf running everywhere; a garden, where Gertrudes could live, and a beautiful stained glass covering one of the living room walls. On the second floor, my bedroom with Pimpa on the bed, and my bathroom; there was an attic and two terraces with a pool.
There I discovered my dad's Beatles collection, and some of the best books I'll ever read. I learned how to do the dishes (well, kinda) and how to peel potatoes (and almost my hands); I almost peed in my pants out of terror, while watching I Know What You Did Last Summer with my friends in that living room; and when my first crush ever took me home after our first date, we spent hours talking on those front steps - with Rolf looking from afar, afraid of the stranger that engaged my attention so, and ready to have at him if he tried to do anything! Guess that boy was Rolf-approved.

It was also where Rolf died - the evil next door neighbor gave him lead to eat. I cried my head off, and my dad, in an attempt to cheer me up, rented Dr. Dolittle for us to watch.
What a doubly horrible night.
I moved to my grandma's, in Rio de Janeiro, when I was almost 16. And though I was leaving a lot of things behind (including Gertrudes), it was kinda fine: I was going to live in the house where my dad had been brought up, and where I had spent my every summer vacation, and most of my Christmas parties. It was, I guess, still home.
In 2004, however, she decided to sell the place, and move to the south of Brazil. She asked me to come along, and I said no. Instead, I went to a boardinghouse, where I lived for 4 years.
I hated everything about that place.
There was nobody there waiting for me, to hear about my day; I couldn't have a dog nor a plant. Just me and my stuffed Panda. It was just a place for me to crash at night. And I did whatever I could to spend the day out.
In the middle of 2008 I finally moved to where I live now, with Roomie. And it's a great place, I have no problems whatsoever with staying in - it's my house, it's where I feel comfortable.
But is it a home? I don't know. What makes a home after all? (And please don't say "A home is where your heart is", that's just cheesy). Is it the presence of your family? Maybe - maybe not.
When I think "home", I sometimes think of either my grandma's old place, or my white and salmon house, where Gertrudes might still be. Every now and then, I visualize my old college which felt like home to me for good 4 years - specially the library, and most specially the German Literature section.
And someday I'll probably think of a house where people wait for me - a man who wears a ring just like mine, a couple of children who will have my hair and his eyes, and this huge white labrador running everywhere.
But most of the time, the word "home" makes me think simply of a stuffed Panda bear called Pimpa, that still lies on my bed.



Didz-W said...

wow..all those pics are so cute! was that u? cute adorable baby! to me, my home is my bed. Hehe.

Rml said...

Hehe, thnx! Yeah, those would be me - except for the bear and the plant.
And in case you're wondering, on the pic with the girl and the dig - I'm the girl! =P
Huh... I think I was a cuter baby than beanie, could it be possible???

RicAdeMus said...

Is that a bookshelf headboard? Or maybe one beside the bed? With Pimpa guarding it, either way. =)

I want to re-read this a few times before really commenting. I want to absorb this one.

Rml said...

Hehe, take your time!
Yep, that's the bookshelf right beside my bed! I gotta have my books at hand.

ambiguous_angel said...

i agree with're a cute lil kid:) And the panda too, so hugable.

Rml said...

Hahahaha, thank you angel! And yes, she IS just soooo huggable!

Iris H. said...

Lovely writing, hon. Really lovely.

On a less serious note, the "centre"? Are you suddenly British? ;)

Rml said...

Thnx hon!
Hahahaha, I like writing -re instead of -er!!! It just feels right, you know? "Righter" if you will! ;)
Ooooor "rightre"?!?! =P (Ok, I suck.)

beanizer_05 said...

1/ ok..that baby is cute, but cuter than beanie??tsktsk..that girl looks harmless, you sure that's you??..hey didzy, beta is a good pet owner..just saying!!i don't mean anything..hehe..

2/ i say --forgive your evil neighbor,do good unto others! Bake them a cake with pedigree topings..

3/ i am more huggable than that Pimpa..

4/ your Q--a home is..hmmm..i'll tell you when we get married..and find our lil darlings playing with their labradors..

5/--i guess..there's just one pic that caught my attention..seen her in didz comments..look! she's there again..ok i've zoomed her image--so what??!!..does she think she's hot enough?? just..just..curious..nothing else!

Anonymous said...

i read your post yesterday and tried commenting....but my stupid comp and the net went off!! stupid unreliable net!!

you look soooooooooo cuteeee sweetie!!! and are all those books behind Pimpa..yours?? am sorry i just couldn't stop staring at them..hehe...

btw did i mention how cute and adorable you look in those snaps?!

Rml said...

@beanie: hahahahah, yes, that's me! I AM harmless!!!! And yes, I'll bake a cake... with neighbor stuffing!
And of course the girl in the pic's hot enough! More than enough! ;)

@bella: hahahahah, thank you! Yeah, I tend to look cute! =P
Hehe, those books are mine - and I've got a whoooooole lot more where those came from, trust me!!!

Anonymous said...

lucky you.....hehe..

maya said...

ohk..da gal in dapic luks adorable n cutieee...
tsk tsk..i gt jealus on seein soo mny buks in ur shlf..
i agree wd bella "lucky u"...
evn i usd 2 hav a dog bt i dont remmbr y bt my dad gav it 2 sum1!!..

RicAdeMus said...

You were an adorable baby and such a pretty girl. An imagination is much better than video games, it would have been great fun jumping in and out of the windows with you--I hope you shared that with playmates from the neighborhood. You have sweet memories from each of the houses. When you have time, I'd like to hear the story behind the move to your grandma's.

What makes a "home"? I think it's a place you're happy to be and sad to leave--hopefully it's where we live and a place we share with those we love. I'm comfortable almost anywhere. My parents lived in the same house my entire childhood, but I lived with different relatives when I was little, a lot of it I don't even remember.

Rml said...

@maya: hey, there u r! Hahaha, thanks baby! I couldn't live in a house where there aren't shelves and shelves filled with books!

@rick: thank you! Imagination is essential when you grow up with few childhood companions - I would have loads of them a couple of years later, but until then... and video-games are so much fun, but still overrated!
I like your definition of "home"; sounds just about right.