A home is only a home if I paint the walls blue. This is about you, Walton Avenue, who I have come to love like Warren Road, like Center Drive. Streets overflowing with what people have let go of, my block a mismatch of aluminum siding and brownstones; this avenue sounds like clamoring to cabs from bars, on the way home from Yankee stadium. The echoed melodramas of bar-goers were the music to my midnights, talking only as New Yorkers do, their escapades on display for all of the Concourse to see. I turned my pillow over and tried to get back to sleep.
I used to crave a home where I felt rested and relaxed, but is still where the pulse pushes blood through the arteries of the city. This was the first home I’d had since a blue room in Brooklyn, on Manhattan Avenue, where four of the best years of my twenties were spent. My first order of business here was to paint the walls blue – blue is a forgetting, smells like starting over, and is the most passionate and pertinent color of my life.
This time, one wall around the window seat was adorned with hues of sea, and I meditated on this finally being a home, having just left the crimson fire of anger and the uncertainty of a friend’s couch. Here I was starting from scratch, and truly putting into practice the idea of prioritizing me. Sometimes we who teach are also caretakers of many other souls when we clock out of work. Sometimes we take the world on our shoulders on Tuesday mornings, and have to give it back in the evening.
I signed the lease as a single woman, happy to be alive, reinforcing my faith in the universe. I meditated on this for months, and when I met him I was a brick wall in the pouring rain – intent on standing tall and alone, even if it means I got soaked. He asked me to come in from the rain, but I was dancing. He asked me to dance with him, but I could only hear my own songs. He was persistent in his asking, telling his friends with subtle swag that he could win me over. I was reluctant in the rain, but he walked me home when it poured outside, so I relented to a dance.
We will always be a whirlwind of emotions, so we danced like fire through the next year, and were soon posting photos of tanzanite rings (because he knows I will not wear blood diamonds). Glen Washington was the soundtrack to him dancing through our apartment, cooking chieh bou yapp, and we got married in a language that I do not speak. Our life opened up like wildfire on dry grass, soon it was autumn and I was packing our lives into cardboard boxes to bring our love to a new state.
We had also managed to create an epic soul along the way back to Michigan. Mulay Nasir is a hurricane all his own, with untameable curls and dimples for days, he caused me to step back and look around me like everywhere was home, as long as it contains his laugh. Every window mine to look out of onto the world, every door welcoming me back, every streetlight shining my walk down Highland.
We have moved, again. He complains as he carries a heavy parcel of books, in his thick accent that I have “too much stuff”. I remind him quietly that I am a teacher, it is a hazard of the job that I fill my life with books and paper. I am still unpacking my office, which reminds me of the selves I used to keep as my favorite masks, and I still have to paint the walls blue. My new space is a trek through the universe to a new galaxy, but with my boys, everywhere is home.