Welcome to my home. You’re not invited in. Only those descended from the same common ancestors, those tied by blood, those who are made up of half the same DNA can enter. And so, instead, Nick and I, devoted architects of this home, get to head inside. We constructed the beige, sturdy, plush walls and ceilings, installed elegant drapery dividers of the highest quality fabrics, integrated a high-tech, innovative and flexible communication system between rooms, also functioning as a pop of colour, and, last but not least, our own personal kitchen, consisting of the largest Ziploc bag in existence filled with treats saved from Halloween. This home, this tunneled paradise, is a place of creativity. Where minds could stretch to Neptune and back and where imaginary worlds are sculpted during hours of play.
Nicholas, draw back the dusty, loose-knit, brown and white drapery, handcrafted decades ago by our beloved grandmother. Feel the scratchy-yet-comfortable wool slide past your body as you enter the home. Watch your head! The ceilings seem to be quite low, but the perfect height for us. Dragging your knees, you crawl into the fortress. The infinite cavern twists and turns like a hedge maze with a ceiling. The light is quite dim, but the imperfections in the construction allowed for slivers of light to illuminate the space just enough to navigate. Travel around the first bend, I’ll meet you inside.
Once you round the corner, you spot it: the tube. This small, yet important aspect of the home allows for us to talk. It bends through the walls, opening in two different rooms. Wait there. I’ll slide onto my hands and knees and follow suit, traveling with ferocious speed, eager to hear whatever secrets you deem tube-worthy. I arrive at the corresponding end of the tube, pushing my messy golden locks behind my ear then pressing my cupped ear against the hole in the tube. I hear the rustling of the plastic ridges, creating eerie, echoed notes, like an ill-tuned piano. As a whisper makes its way down the tunnel, a small smile escapes in the darkness with nobody to see, but I know you’re aware of my sheer joy in this communication. Suddenly, you speak with a heightened volume and… AGH! I shriek in disgust as the condensation within the tube has built up from your breath, resulting in the dampening of my ear at the end of the tube. You let out a hushed giggle as this happens every time we tube-talk. I never expect this condensation, not learning from my past.
Eventually, I realize we can just speak through the walls, our voices now big enough to permeate the thick yet light cushioning that makes up most surfaces in our house. We beckon to each other loudly, no longer whispering secrets through the narrow plastic passageways. I try to round a corner in the house and accidentally knock down one of the walls. A piece of the ceiling shifts, letting in light and ruining the illusion of a dark, shadowed sanctuary. Instead of quickly rushing to help me fix it, you yell at me and my clumsiness as you had worked so hard on that piece of construction. I quickly exit, not wanting to cause any more trouble or tension. As I sit outside of our little house, I hear the clanking of multiple pots and dishes. I realize then the overwhelming power of silence the house had – as if an air-tight seal was created by the dense, beige fabric, blocking off the sounds of the outside world. After a moment alone, my thoughts are interrupted by a quiet shout from upstairs “Nick, Miranda, dinner’s almost ready. Come and get drinks!” This beckon from above has no effect on me as I continue playing with my toys while leaning against the wall our fortress, content in my imaginary world I’m creating for my toy animals. I feel your grip on my wrist, pulling me upward. Though it was a reasonable amount of pressure, my face scrunched up in pain, forming my classic angry dimple, mad that you had abruptly pulled me out of my joy. You yell at me to hurry as mom would be mad if we didn’t respond to her calling us. I slump and grump, trudging up the stairs, knowing you’re right. After our hearty feast created by my mother, devoted to my growing pickiness toward certain foods, I head for the stairs, hoping to return to our little house. Noticing you pass the stairway and continue down the shadowed, cold stone-floored hallway, I beg for you to return, for without you, the basement frankly gave me the creeps and I wouldn’t enjoy being alone down there. I give up begging. You preferred to reside in your own fortress, your gigantic backpack of papers from class and magic treehouse of books whisking you away to your desk of solitude, leaving me in an in-between space, left to create my own entertainment.
I, too, drag my feet and retreat to my room, hoping to find something that brings me joy. Our house, regardless of how soft, cozy, and warm it was, was no longer a home. It was a powerful fortress of imagination, a platform for the both of us to create a world for just the two of us, but once you had outgrown this state of consciousness or lack thereof, you had outgrown our home. You had outgrown me.