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  • Writer's pictureMaryann Kariuki

The Morphing Of Home

Updated: Mar 31

I’m sitting in my new apartment bedroom floor with bags half unpacked, my clothes all over the place, pictures scattered on the floor, an overflowing bin… it’s a war zone. I can see my blue t-shirt loosely hanging on to dear life on half my desktop screen like it’s lost all will to live. Just now I hit my knee by the side of the door and I am laying on my bed with ice placed on the affected area as I catch a breather. It’s clear that I am not a fan of moving places, the chaos, emotional and physical exhaustion is just a little too much for me.

The space I previously occupied hosted my being, stories, and art for 3 years. It was also my first home abroad. Where I met my best friends. The student apartments. We’d have breakfast in the hallway most mornings, some nights cuddling up together while watching cheesy movies and other nights walking home drunk together from the clubs. That space knew my off days and happy days. We had a real connection. I saw many people come and go, finish school and leave, while I stayed behind making my mark, filling this little space with my memories. Bit by bit. And much of a coincidence is that I moved out to this new space on the exact day I’d moved into my old space 3 years ago.

So, yes, emotional exhaustion but it’s time to make new memories in a new space.

As I'm awkwardly positioned with an ice patch on my leg, feeling the area covered turn icy cold and slowly become numb, I think about a phone call I had with my mum’s high school best friend, Pauline. Everyone knows Pauline. She’s the best. On the call I talked to her about home and how much I missed being in my mama’s house. Then she said something that I’ve been thinking about a lot since then. She said ‘well, now you're making your home’ and it was followed by a little sadness, that my childhood home could be replicated in a way. Because, wherever I am on this planet, that is the only place I call home. My mama’s house.

I have lived in a couple of places, but I’ve always called them ‘my place’ not my home. But the fact that I was grown enough to start making a tiny little home for myself outside the walls of the only place I’ve ever called home made me feel a little uneasy, a little too grown. It was uncomfortable. Yet a certain calm welcomed the thought. That everything I was accumulating was a part of my story, a new story I was beginning. That the friends I was making along the way somehow joined or carried me to a new phase of my life. The home-making phase.

You see, when I was doing my Bachelors, I’d drive down home most weekends, because my Mama’s house has always been the place I've always felt completely myself. Well, I still get judged for waking up late. It’s still an African home, don’t get it twisted. But, the birds chirping in the morning, the dogs barking. Alice, if you’ve ever visited me at home, you’ve definitely met Alice, such a light. She makes the whole story about our house all the more welcoming and peace giving. The warm ground, our little farm in the back yard where I’d always pick a fruit from the tree and sit on the bare ground with my cats as I ate the fruit and watched the birds or played with the resin from the trees.

Which also reminds me, I’ve always been a cat mum. I always had cats around me growing up. It was a forbidden act to take them with me to my room at night but I'd sneak them in at night and take them out in the morning. Once I even stole a cat, but, well, that's not what this piece of writing is about. Then I once had a cat named Jimmy. Funny that she had a dudes name, but that's just because we realized too late that she was female. So the name stuck. But, Jimmy died, quite sadly a few weeks before I left for my studies abroad. Then thinking that for 3 years, I haven’t owned a pet, haven’t had a cat. Something must be off.

I just think having a pet abroad is expensive. And what am I to do with it during the winter when even I can't take myself out for a walk?

Any way, before you know it, you hug your friends goodbye, one after the other, a different phase of your life, gone with the last hug. You start seeing each other less often, but you’re left with memories that you gently carry with you wherever you go. Memories like sitting on cold floors eating horrible frozen pizza from the gas station kiosk, sitting inside bathtubs fully clothed drinking wine and storytelling, staying out to watch the sunset in mild showers and celebrating birthdays together.

So, as I watch the clouds swiftly move from my bed, as I reminisce on the memories, the cold floors and frozen pizza nights. I think to myself, is home where the peace is? Is this how I make my home? Are all these little peaceful memories the building blocks? What memories will my walls be filled with. What stories. What love. And what light. Will I always try to replicate the familiar?

And today, I woke up to a very cozy morning and the first thing on my agenda was to watch cartoons. Because that is what we did on Saturday and Sunday mornings while growing up. Then it hit me, I was recreating from the memories, from the familiar.


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