Building a Wall

Although, in truth, nothing was the same. She forgot about the stars… and stopped taking notice of the sea. She was no longer filled with all the curiosities of the world and didn’t take much notice of anything… (Oliver Jeffers)


Over the last year, there has been a lot of talk about building walls. I know so many that cringe when this is discussed, myself included. Walls are limiting. They create boundaries. Us. Against. Them. Keep out. Damage and hate and isolation.

It is a bleak time to be discussing walls, I get it.

This summer was incredibly slow for me. I gave up a lot of what had previously been on my plate. I transitioned into a job that requires less emotional effort. I didn't travel. I bought a house. I settled into a pace slower than I was comfortable with and trusted that learning to listen to my heart beat slowly, for the first time in memory, would be good for me.

In March, when I purchased my home, I had a moment when I sat down and really wondered if I was insane. This house, all mine, with so many rooms, would soon offer refuge to strangers. I felt crazy. I loved living alone in my small one bedroom apartment, why was I disrupting this seemingly perfect existence with such an enormous risk?

But it felt right. That was really the only answer I found when I searched, and that seemed to be good enough to propel me forward.

In a lot of ways, that feeling has grown. As I moved in and started to hand my heart over to this new home, I realized there was something more to this than I had realized. Something beautiful and true I apparently knew about myself but didn't realize: I have always been searching for a home. And seemingly, I have found it.

When I met this house for the first time, I had a moment of disorientation. There was a wall, a large wall, that caught me off guard. When I entered, I wasn't prepared for this structural monstrosity. Spanning the entire length of the home, this bare and sturdy wall, completely naked other than a coat of beige paint, pulled me close. The unpredictable nature left me slightly breathless. I trusted this wall, and I trusted this house. 

Over the last six months, I have found this wall to be something fantastical. I have struggled to figure out what exactly to do with it. It holds up a place that I can be crushingly vulnerable yet shatteringly safe. It doesn't waiver. It just pulls me in, each and every time I enter. It soothes and sits and waits. It doesn't demand, yet it commands respect. I have spent a long time staring down the length of this wall wondering how I can show it the right, and appropriate, love.

I thought this wall deserved some art. Or maybe I thought I deserved some art. Either way, I begin to search for beauty to give it. Pieces that represent how I feel: a journey, love, home, shame, loss, strength, or any other feeling I am momentarily throwing around in the aftermath of divorce and discovery and heartbreak. I added a mantle because that is warmth, I added a piano, mainly because I fell madly in love with this old, broken thing upon seeing it and I thought it appropriate to represent that reckless part of my heart on this wall. But building this wall of love isn't easy. It isn't complete with some nails and some keys stuck up against it.

Building this wall began to reveal the pieces of myself I was also building. From a blank slate to something deeper that is pieced together with laughter and tears and so many unsure moments of satisfaction and regret.

With some help from a local artist, I started to consider a mural on this wall. It is still, at this moment, hard for me to imagine, but the concept is coming together slowly. A piece that grows. A mural that isn't finished quickly and whose next phase of development is unknown. An evolving work that is delicately crafted with trust and bonds and an opening of the heart, revealing a journey that remains unknown until it is experienced with forwarding motion and a ton of faith.

Building this wall isn't easy. Mainly because it requires me to dismantle so many other walls I have built over the last few years. Walls that mercilessly reshaped my heart and my beliefs and, me. Those walls need to come down to build this new wall. This wall is different. It pulls in instead of pushing out. It reveals instead of shutting things away. It creates openness rather than binding shut. It requires me to stop hiding. In so many ways, I am unsure if I am fully ready for what that means.

But, building this wall feels right. And if I have learned anything, it is that this feeling is worth following.