By Jamie L. Rodriguez
I remember the day as clearly as a lucid dream in late morning. I sat across from my friend in her cozy living room as our children played nearby. I had curled up in that very spot when my oldest was toddling, when I nursed my second-born, and now again on this day as my third child explored the toys on the floor. It should have been as comfortable as an old pair of jeans, but that day the seat was hotter than the coffee mug I clenched in both hands.
As a counselor, I had chosen a profession that I thought was fulfilling to me because I enjoyed listening to people and learning about their lives, helping if I could. I never fully appreciated the fact that it wasn’t just listening I preferred, but rather the absence of conversation about myself that made the counselor’s chair most comfortable for me. That all changed that day in a conversation about, of all things, walls.
Her walls were so warmly inviting with the faces of smiling children and other beautiful works of art filling their empty spaces. I thought of my own walls at home, stark in comparison. Piles of family photos still hid in their protective sleeves from the photography studio just waiting … for what? I didn’t know.
It would take the magical moment of using my own voice to speak the words: “I have a problem with walls,” to be able to step outside myself and consider that maybe it wasn’t just a lack of decorative sense that kept me from adorning the pale walls in a house I truly loved.
“I don’t remember my house as a child,” I confessed, still gripping the mug, now cold. The houses I grew up in were not home. Home is where you laugh and cry together, and grow closer as a family. Home is where your soul is safe to rest. I didn’t remember the house I lived in because I didn’t want to remember a place that was not safe. I was safe now; I knew it. With a wonderful husband and three amazing children, I knew I was home, in my mind at least. However, recurrent dreams of searching for a home betrayed my inner reality.
That day in my friend’s living room, the air between us was electric. In the precise moment I had the thought, she said the magic words.
“It’s time to come home.”
Indeed it was. In the weeks and months that followed, I let myself actually see what I knew already: Walls were wonderful inventions. They not only provided a place for a special photo of a loved one; they gave the house structural clarity. They delineated what belonged in the home from what should remain outside its boundaries. It was my turn to choose what existed within the walls of my house. It was time to come home because it was safe to do so.
Not all walls are good, of course. They can shut people out that we desperately need to inhabit our lives. Healing takes time. Sometimes we need to say “No” for a season, until it feels safe to say “Yes, come in,” and that’s okay.
As Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz could attest, sometimes what you say out loud is what becomes real. “There’s no place like home,” may not be the phrase that puts your feet on solid ground, but the concept is powerful. When I am caught up in the whirlwind, I am centered by the phrase: “This is my home.” I declare it so with my own voice, and live in the truth of my power to re-create home the way I desire it.
Walls are good. My walls now have rich, warm hues that tell me I am home. I don’t recommend Lime Frenzy for the kitchen, but other than that, walls are good.