A Pilgrimage of Place


This is a photo of a place in which I used to dwell. It wasn't perfect. We didn't own it. At the time it was home and it was all we thought we needed. There was a courtyard in which we gathered and feasted, two spots of earth I planted flowers and hung hammocks and trained roses. When it rained, the drops gathered in the uneven bricks, creating small lakes in which the birds would later bathe. We could sit underneath the little patio and watch the drops fall like mercury from the flat, poorly sealed roof. Windows opened through ivy, screen popped out and stray cats would appear in the living room. The kitchen - o the kitchen! - had a curved doorway out of brick, a floor of uneven slate, a bar, and more cabinet space, counter space, than any place we'd lived before.

We thought we'd be happy there for years.

Then the management changed. The air conditioning went out and we roasted at 85 degrees in the sweltering, Southern summer while being told there was "nothing wrong" with the unit. The outbuilding was rented to another tenant and we had to put up with strangers rambling through the gate at will, regardless of if we were entertaining friends or relaxing in the hammock. Palmetto bugs swooped in through the windows and fluttered from the exposed pipes while we chased them around with a flimsy flyswatter.

Perspective shifted. It was time to move on.

I grow homesick for this place of my memory. At times, I wish we'd stuck it out, fought for better air units and learned to live with the constant intrusions. Deep down, I know that's against my private nature. We left the loft and went on to another place before leaving that city for good. Each move, each shift has seemed perfect until reality sets in and the gloss of new found freedom rubs off.

Still...

...each of these places is a part of me. A part of my history. My mythology. I cannot go back but it is also impossible to move forward with taking into account all the places I've been. The road lies before me shrouded; I can see but a few steps in front of me. There are goals, there are dreams and I know in what direction I am headed. 

Still I carry with me every place I've ever lived.

Still I carry with me every place I've ever been.

This is part of an ongoing, personal writing project titled A Pilgrimage of Place : a Deeper Look at the Things We Carry. To read more, search the Labels "a Pilgrimage of Place", "The Things we Carry", or "Personal Mythology.

Comments

  1. That looks like such a sweet little courtyard. It makes me miss living on land and having a little outdoor garden and space. I can see why you miss it. Renting has its advantages, but you're also dependent upon the landlord. I've had some good ones in my times, and not so good ones as well. Cheers - Ellen

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    1. It truly was wonderful but we left just in the nick of time! When the management changed, it was going to cause all sorts of headaches for the residents. We recently heard that the place has gone down hill in the past year. I hated to hear that but I'm thankful we've moved on!

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  2. Beautiful thoughts, Jen. I feel that way about the places I've lived, too. My childhood home is probably the most beloved in my memory, but I also loved even the dorm room I lived in for a year in college, and the crummy apartment my husband and I rented the first year of our marriage (saving money for our first house by living in a scary neighborhood with police running through the parking lot, guns drawn, chasing criminals). Even when a place wasn't beautiful completely, I've always found something beautiful there. I loved the second story deck on that aweful apartment that looked out over the shared lawn space, I loved the posters I put up in my dorm room and how I had my books arranged on the one tiny bookshelf. My childhood home was filled with nooks and corners that I loved dearly. Each place has deep meaning for us while we live there and when we look back.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing this! Yes, everywhere I've lived, even our first apartment with the crappy management and terrible neighbors had something good about it. My childhood home is still where my mother lives. It isn't very big but it's still as homey as I remember it: filled with personality and all the smells and comforts of home. I hope that when we're able to finally buy our own home, we'll be able to build its personality around our interests and, of course, our quirks :)

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  3. It had personality. Definitely could do without the Palmetto bugs inside though.
    I've liked the last two places we've lived. Will always carry fond memories.

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    1. Oh the Palmettos were an adventure! Because of the ivy, they were everywhere! The one night I describe here, they literally fluttered from the ceiling like some apocalyptic snow. It was terrifying! My husband who, at the time was in pest control, was asleep and I had to run around with a flyswatter, freaking out, slapping them silly! He woke up completely discombobulated and madness ensued! It was hilarious!

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  4. Leaving a enchanted cottage must have ripped you apart. Can't back, that's what I have learned.

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    1. It wasn't as hard as we thought. By the time we left, the management had become rather shady. It was wonderful for a time. We'll always have fond memories of it, though.

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  5. Former homes can bring back such memories!

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    1. They can. It's nice to reminisce every now and then.

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