18.8.13

I think a lot about houses. I would be a much better driver if I didn't send so much attention to the side of the road, but I can't help watching all those homes with their individualities and commonness flashing by. This is a major reason I prefer to be the passenger.

I read the rental and real estate classified listings, and I want to inhabit (own) all of them - but only the houses that are detached, because it's not about the house (in terms of rooms, windows, square footage) as much as it is about land, about distance (separation, buffer) from other people. A floor in a building is not something you can possess (define), like you can a piece of land outlined by geographical coordinates and its unique wedge of space, stretching from the core of the earth out to whatever edge of the universe it happens to be facing.

But it is about rooms, it is about the windows and the angle of the light and where the rooms connect and whether the floor runs in one piece between them. It is about domesticity. It is paint and curtains and rugs. It is visual.

But it's more about the plants, the trees, and if I can dig up the lawn and plant something of my own there, something that will be mine, over which I get to be the boss. It is about the agrarian ideal.

But the other side of the American narrative is the open road, the pioneer, the Conestogas and Johnny Appleseed and wandering and seeing. And in that version the places are not yours, or they are but only so far as anything you look at or walk through is yours through experience and memory.

Homelessness is a Bad Thing these days, but at the same time we're increasingly idealizing hunting and gathering and walking all day and not eating farmed crops. Farming ruined everything. Homes ruined everything, and now to be homeless is a bad thing because what's outside our homes is pavement and criminals and dirt and scary. But I don't feel safe in my home, really. It's easy enough to be scared, to know physically that someone is right there, that if I turn around there will be a face, a human body, looking at me, that there is already whether I look or not.

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