I sleep in the same house as when I was 1 month old. I sleep in the same bedroom as when I was 4. My parents–healthy and almost 80–have lived together in the same home for 45 years. Few men of 41 live with such constancy.
I am shaped by this constancy. I fear failure less for I have a strong safety net. Home is a secure harbor if my job fails, I run out of money, or storms blow too fiercely. I can run far and free. Home will remain where I leave it. My parents’ deaths will be devastating.
Constancy, though, constrains. Not much changes here. As players in the tableaux, we are expected not to change either. New ideas and new directions are viewed with suspicion. New technology is fearful.
My bed has changed over my 41 years from a crib to a twin bed to the current queen bed that accommodates my brother and his wife on their visits back hom. I used to rearrange the furniture when periodically bored, but have not done so for 20 years. The rearranging continued, but for my life outside of the family house.
My only pets–two budgies, Sam and Fluffy–no longer eat the drapes. They died thirty years ago.
In my early teens, my father suggested new wallpaper. I picked outlandish. Dad graciously installed on one bedroom wall a waterfall photomural, viewed now as a product of the early 80s.
Some might regret such time back in their natal bed. This return could be denigrated as a failure; a triumphant son would bring home a wife in a BMW. But I need this reconnection to my childhood. This homecoming provides wisdom almost nobody experiences: I can live as I once did, but knowing what I know now.
With my parents at eighty, my childhood room slowly fills with early evening darkness. These quiet, constant nights will not be for much longer. Soon comes infirmity, decline, and death. My parents’ ends prompt my own.
This month, I will soon sort through my childhood belongings to save, remember, throw out, and part ways. I can’t hold on to all of it. I will keep a morsel totem to remember my childhood. I straddle youth, middle and old age.