Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The House is a Nest for Dreaming: Singing Bowl with Sage

“…the house is a nest for dreaming, a shelter for imagining…”

--From the forward to the 1994 addition of The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

This is a short series on images of home. If you are interested in contributing an image from your home along with a brief prose piece about it, please email me:

One: Singing Bowl with Sage—

The rooms of my homes are filled with objects that keep company and communion with me. For the past ten years I’ve moved almost every year. How this happens I’m not sure. Does it have something to do with me, or is it just the luck I’ve had? Again I find myself in an apartment that I plan to leave. Though across the street there’s a park overlooking the lake, the apartment’s too small, there’s no backyard, and the traffic is loud.

This morning I could smell the earthy wetness of the lake in the breeze as I walked up the front steps. The scent invigorated me with both the memory of my childhood home on a lake in Minnesota and my secret future in the woods by a stream: a cabin in the woods and silence.

Philip Graham once told me that the objects in our homes reflect our psychological interior, something he wrote about in his collection of short stories, Interior Design. My husband gave me the singing bowl four years ago when we were dating. We burned the sage in the bowl at our wedding to cleanse our union. I don’t use the singing bowl or the sage, but it reminds of my desire for inner serenity. When I used to smoke I’d sometimes sneak cigarettes in the kitchen and burn the sage afterwards. No one was home but me. I always felt guilty burning the wedding sage to cover up the scent of my secret smoking. But if felt so me to do it.

If the objects of our homes reflect our inner states, is it the way we hope to be or the way we are that these objects are mirroring? It would be impossible to clear our homes of all the objects we felt didn’t properly reflect our interiors. The overflowing basket of shoes, the ugly handbag you can’t part with, a childhood toy you keep around for reasons you haven’t addressed, a stuffed bear your father sent you, the painting of squares your best friend made for you in her adult education painting class, your self-help books, the necklace your lover gave you that just isn’t quite right…

The rooms of all my many homes fade in and out. There are places I’d prefer not to remember and places I indulge in reverie over. The colors of the walls—red, turquoise blue, peach, golden yellow, sky blue—make a patch work of lost selfhood. These walls hold me in, safely store my memories, my desires, my grief and joy; they give comfort me with the solace of a space that is all my own. Bachelard would say the house frees us to dream and to remember.

I dream of the cabin in the woods by the brook, the small vegetable garden, the budding apple orchard, and the children. I dream of a small place, silent and serene, where all my objects come to rest, each in its proper place, reflecting my interior design.

1 comment:

Sarah B said...

wow, emily. way to bring up my unresolved issues...i had no idea the ugly doll that my aunt made me that was a poor knock-off of a cabbage patch doll actually symbolizes something broken deep down. she was supposed to look like me. she was REALLY ugly. i wonder why i keep it?