Statuette beside Potted Plant


This statuette is no longer there. And neither is the plant. I don't know what happened to either; they just disappeared in between the time I last saw them and now. I'm reminded of A Clockwork Orange and Bronson (amongst many others), in which the main characters return home from a stint in prison, only to see that it is not really home. In Alex's case, the room is familiar, but the contents are different; belonging to everyone but him. In Charlie's case, conversely, the room is completely different, and the home has switched cities. Initially, all he wishes for is his old bed, decrepit but familiar. Ultimately, he learns that home is not a bed, but a city, the location in which his formative years occurred. Abandoned by his family and tortured by his friends, Alex finds that home is wherever he will survive.

The attachment to possessions is not, in this sense, driven by materialism, but familiarity and comfort. You depend on them to be there when you need them, to provide you with that sense of ease. It's not that you have own them that counts, but that you have them. And that is why losing them, and your home, is such a profoundly traumatic experience. But, even when you are faced with the terror of unfamiliarity and no way to escape it, you learn to live with it. To find new things to which you can attach your sentiments, new blankets in which to wrap yourself, and new walls within which you can hang your frames. Home becomes where you are.

Only, that's not actually true. That walls are forgotten so easily means they are merely no more than bricks and plaster. That we can find new trinkets and plants with only the slightest thought of passing suggests an attachment to a state of being, not memory. And, really, a state of being is not home. Where you are is not who you are. Walls are just walls. Complacency does not equal comfort.

The cliché, "Home is where the heart is," is no less true because it's a cliché. When I look at this picture, I realise that I don't care about that statuette, or that plant. Even though I spent years nurturing it, it is no longer here. Someone else has it now, and I don't yearn for its return. I learn that my heart lies not within this image, or the nurturing of its subjects, but with those whom I love, and that simmering heat and brittle cold we shared. It with the peace of silence. I see that, though I may learn to live within these walls, they are but walls. They are not mine. And this is not home.

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