Our Dempster home. Not where we’re living now.

We’ve been living in our rented “town house” for a few weeks now. It’s a big, rambling, oddly laid out house on three floors. There are big north facing windows in the two sitting rooms, with views of the Dome (is it a mountain? I’m never sure what to call it. It’s bigger than what I think a hill should be, but smaller than what I think a mountain should be.) There is ample light, even as we turn incrementally away from the sun. We moved almost none of our own furniture here, though, and the furniture that was already here is sparse, a real hodge-podge. Our dining room table is an old round wood veneer table butted up against a slightly higher glass top table. There are Hastily made wooden shelves in the two sitting rooms. Extra phone and fax lines, external wiring cased in metal and glaring fluorescent lights cover the walls and ceilings: in the summers, a television production crew rents this house as their dormitory and office space. They’ve certainly left their mark.

My point in all of this is that we’ve felt a bit like squatters here. I didn’t realize it until today. I was having my girlfriends over for tea and snacks this afternoon, so before P left for work this morning, I insisted we bring down an old couch that was in one of the bedrooms upstairs. Our seating arrangement until today has been a lone armchair in one of the sitting rooms, with a mattress-turned-reading/jumping space and a fancy deck chair in the other sitting room. With the couch moved down, with the toys picked up and some throw blankets spread around, with candles lit and potpourri simmering on the stove, with Joni Mitchell low on the speaker, it finally felt a bit like home. I do this often: live in a clutter, clothes flung about every room of the house, stepping over the same mess over and over, crumbs sticking to my feet in the most unpleasant way, until company is due. And then as I tidy and make things cozy, I wonder: why don’t I do this for myself? For us?

We’ve had so many homes in the last 5 years. You’d think I’d be better at this by now. I always bring the important things, when possible: houseplants, a few framed photos, a basket of Yukon rocks (yes, really) some favourite candles, a prism from a dear friend, a rainbow striped blanket from Mexico…these little things, thrown about whatever new place we come to inhabit, help in the beginning. But it’s the extra push of having visitors, and maybe the visitors themselves, that really make me feel moved in.

I know this won’t be our last move. I’m tired of moving. I want to be rooted. For now, though, I’ll have to put down roots like grass: wide and shallow.

1 thought on “Home”

  1. Yes, just had a similar experience when I–finally (after a year!)–finished hanging photos on the wall and put a proper coffee table in the living room, all because guests were coming. Somehow I could not do it for us, but I could for them. It will feel much nicer for the holidays, too. I love the picture of your house and the description of your town home. I have moved a lot during my life, and this is the first time I’ve ever been rooted. I still feel the urge to get up and go, to uproot.


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