My four walls. My palace. My private sanctuary.
This is where I am who I am. Where the mask is peeled off, where the walls that surround me, see me uncensored, in my most natural state.
It’s behind these walls that my soul is anchored.
A shiny silver spider web glistens in the sunlight and dances with the breeze outside. I can see it, right there, within an arms reach, gripping for dear life to my lounge room window. I really should clean it away—perhaps I’ll leave it there a little longer—for what is a window, without a web? A lifeless piece of glass.
The worn shutters hang faded and broken, but all I see are a decade of sweet seasons, bursting into life as they penetrate my windows, and shed their light.
The walls, splashed with scuff marks could do with a paint, but all I see are two little boys, full of the joys of life, crashing into them with sheer delight. Smudging their dirty shoes, school bags and food filled fingers obliviously across their cream coloured surface, with a beautiful sense of childlike freedom.
All I see is my much loved furry companion collapsing against these walls, his tongue falling out of his mouth, gasping for air after he’s run with the wind, and sniffed and played and chased tennis balls, all afternoon with his family. The wall, serving as a support for his well exercised bones.
The tiles are dated—but they’ve had my children’s footprints growing on them for days and weeks and years. They’ve carried the weight of their childhood, as they’ve metamorphosed from babies to young lads, one fast growing step after another. An invisible canvas, warmly holding in its possession, the history of a zillion footsteps.
The washing machine is tired and rusty, but I am thankful for its hard work. Tirelessly, it throws around our laundry, that bares the evidence. The evidence of our existence. Our clothes are clad with experiences. Spillage of a blissful coffee had with friends, sweat from a wicked workout, dirt, spare coinage, pens forgotten in pockets, buttons that have escaped, grass on white shirts, mouldy towels, wet shoes from camp. It labours, to wash the memories clean, so that we may make more.
Six million pairs of well worn shoes lay strewn at my front door. Each one telling its own unique story. A long stroll on the beach? A gruelling training session? A trip to the park? A holiday miles from home? They belong there, exactly as they fell, in perfect disorder.
The front door key, it sticks. We should probably fix that—but one click to the left, one small lean to the right, push the glass just a tiny little bit, and it opens. Like clockwork. The answer lies within the secret code and that’s all we need.
The passageway is adorned with old wedding photos. Moments of the past boxed in a frame, to remind us that we have lived. I haven’t looked at them for so long, I’d almost forgotten they were there. Oh look, there’s Granny, and Mum and Dad in their younger years, all spruced up, smiling at me, as they hang up there. They are leaning, the wire that carries them is a little off centre. A tiny adjustment, and they are perfect, once again.
My favourite couch is sinking into its boots, but it is still warm from where the dog took up position a few minutes ago. He sleeps blissfully unconscious on many an occasion, in that very spot. It’s a place to rest our weary heads after a long day, a sick bed for the unwell, a front row seat at the movies, a meeting place for family discussions, a stand-in trampoline, a secret hiding spot, and centre stage for the wrestling match of a lifetime, that echoes the laughter and giggles of ages.
The aged dining room table has mismatched chairs, but all I see is the heart. The heart that beats to the drum of time. It has hosted many a nail biting card game, precious stories told only once, celebrations, dinners and banter, it’s where secrets and grievances have been revealed and dealt with, timetables learnt, it’s seen Christmas dinners, Easter egg feasts, and fairy bread and chocolate crackles for umpteen sequential years.
I look around me, and quietly observe the imperfections inside my four walls. However it occurs to me that it’s the imperfections that contain the most character. It’s the imperfections that make my four walls uniquely mine, that represent a life lived, that represent the growth and uniqueness of my nearest and dearest.
Imperfect? I say perfect.
For the real value, at the end of the day, is not in the four walls themselves—but in the life lived behind them.
Author: Nicole Martin
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own