What Do I Owe To My House?

I've been trying for a while to write a follow-up to my post on animism. I want to talk about my house. I want to talk about the feelings I sense my house having and the respect that I feel like I owe to it as I clean it up bit by bit and arrange it more to my liking. But good words for this won't come to me easily. I don't have a snappy conclusion to draw. I don't have a good sense of what is a property of the house itself and what is a feeling I'm projecting onto it because of my experiences, or even what exactly are these feelings that I may or may not be projecting. I just know that the house is a project and that I feel some way about it, intensely.

My girlfriend, Hannah, has been visiting this week and I spent the week prior really going all out to try to make the house suitable for a visitor. She of course has been hearing all about my process with the house, getting before and after pictures, etc.

Hannah says there are two major parts to my work with the house emotionally, both of which have everything to do with what material objects are in it and what they mean to me. The first part, which I'm mostly but not absolutely all-the-way done with, is removing my ex-nesting-partner's stuff. This is also a process of disentangling my feelings about the house in the present from my feelings about him in the past. Not removing old memories, in the sense of forgetting, but taking away some of the power and heaviness of those memories' presence. The second part is to make new memories of my own!

This second part feels like it's going more slowly, although it's underway in the parts of the house I frequent most. The bedroom and the office, in particular, feel very much like they're mine. The basement, on the other hand, has a very blank feeling. Like, "Well, we emptied this out; what now?"

I also have local friends who are helping me do minor repairs, and I have money I'm saving up for the more major ones. Because the house has a body, regardless of whether the house is "alive," and that body needs care!

I don't really know how to tie this back neatly to a conclusion about animism, but it's been on my mind, and it's been really apparent to me that the boundaries between arrangements of physical objects and the emotional vibes of a space are quite fuzzy.

Many animist cultures already know this, which is where we get traditions such as feng shui, which are all about managing emotional and spiritual vibes through these physical arrangements. These are not my traditions, but I feel a need to come up with physical arrangements that work in rougly that way for me, nonetheless.

Meanwhile, one of the things that Hannah did this visit was to buy me a new tablecloth and lamp, and it's amazing how those two cheap, tiny items changed the vibe of the dining room once she'd put them together as she envisioned. I had it clean and with a table in it already, but it kind of looked like a random empty space with a table in it as a placeholder. Now it looks like this:

(You can see where a mirror or some art on the wall would enhance the space further. It's a process!)


Meanwhile, here’s some news from the past month: