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Essay

D*S Essay Contest: Susanna-Cole King

by Grace Bonney

Susanna-Cole King, Design Sponge Contest
[Editor’s note: All week we will be posting the finalists for our first D*S Essay contest. The theme was “HOME”. Voting will begin on Friday after all finalists have been notified and posted. Thank you so much to everyone who entered this year’s contest! -Grace]

Home is sleeping in on Sunday, sun squeezing tangerine past window shades and blanketing the bed, womb of warmth. It’s a temple for prayers, and late-night eurekas, as much as for brushing teeth, and puttering around in pajamas. It’s barefooted on worn, wide planks of oak that bear the birthmarks of a hundred and thirty years, mottled with eggshell and crimson dribbles of paint; sun fading.

Home is for books, a wisp of cotton clothed flesh in a cocoon of quilts, paperbacks dog-eared on pillow cases, the fragrant aroma of apples in the slow cooker in autumn, the crescendos of cicadas seeping into the marrow of bones in summer. Home is dust jackets dappled with sun spots and toothy tears, cloth-bound, plastic sleeved, the ghost of a coffee cup on one, marbled endpapers on another, faded slate gray annotations in pencil, embraced in cedar bookcases or precariously teetering on window ledges in diamond-edged stacks, guardian angels of sleep. It’s guts and grins and rhythm, and a lump in the throat.

*Photo above by Lindsay Anne Belliveau

[continued after the jump…]

Home is the harbor, the beacon of light plunging through darkness, the anchor on the ocean floor when tossed by tempests and tumultuous seas, that waits when eyelids are drooping into crescent moons, waxing, waning, when feet ache, hearts ache, head aches, never betraying the hiccuping sobs into the pillow, fists pounding, soft echoes on mattress springs. It’s walls that will listen with rapt attention; never say can’t, never laugh at outlandishness, brazenness, unbridled dreams.

Home is healing a bad day, a decade of illness, beating eggs until arms ache, snail trails of clover honey on the table, the hum of cooking wholesome food, and slowly, slowly, a small hope growing. It’s the humble theater for old floorboards aching in their joints, heart pounding, dancing doldrums into joy, always a beat off, never a damn given.
Home is messy-headed, eating cake for breakfast. It’s legs folded on braided rugs, paper tides in a sea of ephemera browned softy as a bruise, faded snapshots swimming at the knees, pulled into pleasing arrangements, and hung bespoke from clothespins. It’s rummaging through desk drawers, heavy with letters and rumpled poems; sweating out everything at a buttery yellow typewriter, in wicker-bottomed chair, tap, tap, tap, ding!

Home is the ecstasy of losing all sense of the hours ebbing and flowing, of no longer being beneath the heel of the small hand that ticks in its dictatorship. It’s belly aching, side splitting laughter swallowed in a breathy silence, when muscles go slack, and not a soul in the room can sit straight anymore, clutching the table, plates of home cooking, devoured over animated conversation. Home is for the loudness of company, and the quiet of solitude.

Home is for the beloved; anything is art, everything on the walls. It’s for the beautiful, the useful, the storied, worn, and already loved. Home is mementos of those who voices once husked warmly around, a fading memory of generations who have come and come to pass, but not been forgotten.

Home is the view from the windows, neat rows of houses squeezed so tightly together that not even a murmur let out in drowsy sleep, could pass between. It’s rowhouses of grand pizazz, neoclassical, Parisian bohemia, red-bricked or glazed in white and robin’s egg blue. Rowhouses hatted with roofs of coal black fish scales that shimmer when it rains, faded cedar shakes, and sloping eaves. Home is rows snaggletoothed, here or there, a house punched loose from its crooked grin, vacantness, abandonment.

Home is where paradise collides with anarchy, gunshots splitting the night over the lull of moonlit fountains, where presidents once roamed, where slaves fled to freedom, where the war on racism roars on. It’s aristocrats and junkies, prostitutes and policemen, doctors and drug dealers, heirs and starving artists; the strange juxtapositions of a small town, big city.

Home is an uncertain world, it’s growing together, as neighbors, as humans, unafraid to put roots in shaky ground, to plant the seeds so that one day there might be a better hope, a future as luminous as golden sunlight through the kaleidoscope of trees grown tall.

Home is folding myself, a head taller, into my mother’s arms after a long time. -Susanna-Cole King

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