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The sorting is coming to an end. Today we were told to bring all of the remaining plumbing parts. Loose plumbing parts have been one of this projects low water marks. But, I shall not write about plumbing parts tonight. Instead, I will write about what it means to mark a box “home.”

Home is not the same as the house. When Sophie, the dog, and I lived with my mom before she passed from cancer and then through the closing of her estate, I refused to say, “Let’s go home” rather saying, “Let’s go to the house.” Even though I was in and out of her house the last couple of years she was alive living there full time from May until September when school started again, I could not let that be home. I set clear boundaries for myself and imposed them on my spouse. While I was comfortable living in my mom’s house it was her home, even after she died. It was not my home. My home was in Idaho and was the place my spouse, my dog and I lived.

This linguistic separation may not have been helpful in reality but from my perception, it was useful in making sure I was clear about where I lived, not just resided. I have done the same thing about the places we have lived since the fire. Two of our temporary houses were long-term multiple month stays, clearly not hotels. We settled in to live in them but they were never home. I never called them home.

Since August when we moved to Montana, we have been sorting the things in our warehouse. There are boxes marked, “Warehouse,” then XXXXXXXX over warehouse. The box would be marked, “Condo” then XXXXX then “Warehouse” (when we moved out of the condo to the hotel, twice) then XXXXXXX. There were boxes marked, “House” XXXXXX Warehouse, XXXXXX. About three weeks ago I started sorting things and unconsciously marked, “Home” on a couple of boxes. We threw them in the car and brought them home. I keep running into those two boxes and each time they throw me for a loop. It is true, they were brought from the warehouse to this house we live in now but somehow marking them, “Home” feels strange.

house construction, one laundry basket with brass candle lamps and shop towels in it, one rectangular brown cardboard box and a white cardboard box marked HOME

The state of our lives. Construction glop on the concrete floor waiting to be cleaned off to put down the vinyl, laundry hampers of lighting with shop towels to clean them, a box of handles and the big box marked home.

I have a shop towel dispenser box that I cut the top off of and have stuffed it full of furniture feet I am putting finishes on to use with the cabinets and a coffee table I am working on. On the side of this shop towel dispenser box there is a very strong looking guy in coveralls hoisting a wad of shop towels and my scrawl “HOME.” Every time I walk past that box I look at the shop towel guy and the word “Home.” I keep reminding myself how nice it is to be able to mark a box home.

Today we put up the pot rack over the island that got its 3/4 inch plywood on Friday and today got its fiberrock so it can hold up our new granite counter top pieces. The pot rack box is one of the boxes marked home. When the pot rack was up, and had a couple of pots hanging on it where we had been testing heights. As I looked up at the doings at the ceiling end of the room, my eye was drawn down by the irresistible force of the words “Home” written on the side of my pot-rack box. Never mind that we have had the pot rack since Feburary 2013 anticipating that it would be hung up in our kitchen, the word Home on the box drew my interest.

One of the things that I have contemplated on was identifying the moment when it made sense to mark boxes home rather than the house or the condo or the warehouse. At what point did my permanent marker and a moving box know what I did not?

We have been calling our house here home for months. Sophie loves to go places but she loves more to “go home.” When we would drive up to the house even before the framing was up, we would say, “Lets go home!” Sophie would dance in the back seat as much as she could held down by her seat belt, and bark just for sheer happiness. We moved home at the end of February but marking a box home without thinking and after thinking marking them home has been a big heady.

When I realized that I could mark something home it was because we have a home to bring it to. That is a good feeling.