Sunday, September 7, 2014

At the core, what does home mean to you?

At the core, what does home mean to you? When you close your eyes, what image comes to mind? For me, the image that best captures the essence of this word was painted when I was ten years old. Outlined with simple pencil lines, brushed in a flat manner with Gouache paints, and perceived through a head-on perspective, this is a scene of the 'golden age' of my family: 

Here we are, my father, mother and I, dancing the Twist (or at least, learning to do so) in unison. In the left corner you can spot the radio (set on an end table); in the right corner is a hanging lamp, on the wall over our head is a framed landscape, under our feet is a beautiful persian rug, the pillows on the red sofa seem to dance as well, or at least they are balanced on a point...  And most importantly, all three of us are feeling the same beat. This, to me, is not just a picture of home; it is a picture of happiness. It is what was lost in later years, when my parents separated.

Later in his life, when left alone in this space, my father painted it and through the walls he connected it to the memory of his childhood home. You can see the same red sofa, the framed landscape, the Persian rug... But not a living soul. The place is empty, and he filled it but conjuring the image of his mother rocking the cradle.

Later still, when he passed away, this space transformed once again in my mind. The landscape faded away from its frame, and it is barely hanging, barely clinging to the wall. The designs on the Persian rug have faded out too. It has multiplied into layers of blank paper that are swaying under your feet. The lamp is not just hanging, it is swinging wildly, giving a rhythm to the gusts of wind that threaten to destroy this place. It has already kicked the end table (where the radio used to stand in the first image, and where later my father would put his pen and notebook) upside down.

Which brings me to this moment, where again--to fill the emptiness of this space I conjured up a spirit, a muse that with great pity takes the place, in its entirety, into her arms; embraces it, and mourns not only the passing of my father, but all the lives lived between these walls, and moved on and away.

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