Tonight I created a banner for my blog here. Nice, huh? It felt like making a commitment, like moving in. Nipping images and photoshopping them into homepage accessories may be the virtual equivalent of decorating a room or engaging in some sort of nesting behavior. I browsed the web for the right images the way I might browse Pier One for the cushiest throw pillows or Home Depot for the perfect shade of paint, activities that emerge from the need to seek comfort and make a place for oneself. I chose colors, cut and pasted, shaded and blurred. And then I put the stuff up and immediately wondered what other people would think (geez, this person’s only been here a week!) and about the permanency of this arrangement.
I’ve moved fifteen times in the last sixteen years, sometimes across the country, a few times across town. When I bought a house recently (what was I thinking), the novelty of the shopping, packing, and signing my life away lasted as long as the unpacking and decorating—the nesting. Then I started to worry about whether it was the best choice, the best deal; whether I will be able to hang on to it; which appliance will die first; and what will happen if something happens.And what if a gypsy wind blows in one day and I’m stuck here.
But maybe nesting isn’t about staying in one place. Birds build nests every year, sometimes in the same place, but usually not the same nests.
So do squirrels. They’re quite the little bricoleurs, too. A pair of red squirrels who lived in my back yard in Iowa demolished a couple of my lawn chairs shopping for nesting materials. We left the chairs out into the late fall and the squirrels ripped up the seat cushions to get the foam padding. The chairs were right outside our dining room window and we would sit at the table watching them do it. They’d stop and look over at us occasionally too; then they’d look at each other; say something in squirrel, and go back to work. We thought they probably said something like, “Look at the dumb humans.” “Yeah—who leaves lawn chairs out this late in the season?” But watching their industriousness was worth the chair cushions.
That was six places ago.
Sometimes we move and think it will be forever. But there are no guarantees, as the 861,664 families who lost homes in foreclosures last year can probably tell you (CNN Money). As could the people who have lost homes to storms, floods, wild fires, and all manner of war and destruction in various parts of the world.
We have no guarantees that whatever we call home will withstand the variety of potential hazards that might befall us. Of course, in odd circumstances when ours survives and the neighbors’ don’t, relief isn’t necessarily our first response. After hurricane Ike, one house remained standing in Gilchrist, Texas, their neighbors’ homes reduced to beach debris (ABC News). No power, no water, all gone. The survivors had mixed feelings. But at Christmas, the owners of the last house standing strung lights on their porch (CNN). They plan to rebuild.
We nest on, despite the ephemeral nature of, well, everything, and engage in ritualistic and symbolic gestures of making home, where ever that might be.
So, tonight I made a banner for my blog.