Our house doesn't look like our house anymore. For one, the polished mahogany door is ajar, with shoes littered all around it. Strange, unknown feet are scattered all over the house, their owners hand wads of cash to my father in return for furniture they take with them. A wooden entertainment set, a tall, teak bookshelf, my beloved toaster oven, two king-size mattresses. They haul these appliances out the door, failing miserably at avoiding the cardboard boxes that seem to have conquered the apartment. They sit in crowds, staring us down with their cardboarded edges, each one reminding us of the hours left in the seemingly never ending move. A glance around the apartment feels foreign, unnatural. This house isn't mine. Where is the sharp ornate picture frame with my mom blushing at my dad? Where is the makeup on my vanity? I look around thinking, "Where did the mess go?". All this time, we were worried about cleaning up the mess, and now, there is no mess to be cleaned.
The marble floor is a pristine white that I have not seen in the five years I have lived here. The boxes that lay on it are being carted out, and they let out a resentful creak as they are displaced. Deep underneath the layers of cardboard, they don't want to leave their home. The yellowing duct tape wrapped around them in the attempt to keep their contents together has only been partly successful, but while the boxes seem intact, in reality, they are not as sturdy as they seem. After all the boxes are taken away, the bare walls are heard speaking to one another, their voices bouncing off the floor and ceiling, deep and loud and lonely. The door is shut with a resounding thud, and the house is silent.
The house waits, eager for novelty, desperate to see what the future will bring. The door swivels open and excited feet rush in. The floor rises to caress the feet of the new people, the soft threads of the carpet activated by the unfamiliar touch. Cardboard boxes find their way into every room, up long flights of stairs with dark, polished banisters, on kitchen islands with sleek granite surfaces, even on the cold stone floor of an unfinished basement. A pot is placed on the stove at medium heat, its contents simmering, spreading warmth through the entire house. The boxes are opened, the furniture put together painstakingly, nails and nuts and bolts scattered all over the hardwood floor. Hours pass, and the spiced aroma hangs heavy over the house, a cloud of strange and foreign, but still, comforting. Toys are set up, dolls placed in their rooms in the dollhouse once again, and everything seems to be back to normal. The bed looks like the same bed it was before. The bed is the same, the coverlets are the same purple butterfly print, but something is different. Something is off. Something does not feel quite like Home. Yet.