I've gone on a long journey, both mental and physical. It's time to take stock of where I've been. This year we decided to drive to Texas to spend Christmas with Whitley's family, since some of them are getting quite elderly and may not be around to celebrate with much longer. While going from one party or gathering to another, we visited lots of homes but two of them stood out especially for me.
I've noticed over the years that people's homes are a lot like their dreams--they reveal much about them, and these are often things that they don't want you to know. The first was an old friend who invited us to his new condo, which is very nice and well decorated. But it has an ominous feel to it: "nobody's home." When I later came up with the term "empty" to describe it, Whitley immediately said, "That's it!" There was none of the detritus of life there--no photos of friends, family or trips and no magazines or books flung down in the middle of being read. However, this may be because this person reads them online, which I know he has the equipment to do (he showed us that too). The designer chairs were odd and uncomfortable and we didn't see a TV anywhere (although one could have been sequestered inside a piece of furniture). We even speculated that this person (who is probably gay but not "out") may actually be LIVING someplace else, with a person of the same sex, and keeping this condo as a investment and perhaps a "cover." For his sake, I hope so.
A few days later, we went to the home of a relative, and this visit also left us puzzled and sad. This time I used the word "stark" to describe it, and Whitley agreed with me again. Once again, there were no personal effects or magazines (and this person does NOT read online), and there was hardly any food in the refrigerator. This man is divorced and his refrigerator spoke to us of fast food meals picked up on the way home from work and hastily consumed. He also says he's lonely, so what could have been a good sign (lots of restaurant meals with new girlfriends) is probably not the reason for those empty shelves. This man has three cats (one old and dying, another left behind by his ex-wife), but while he played with them while we were there, none of them were curious and mischievous like my old Siamese cat friend Coe, and they were certainly no substitute for being greeted when you come home by a warm and loving human being.
Our third home visit was to the newly-built house of one of Whitley's more successful cousins, which is (of course) gorgeous. This visit made Whitley a bit bitter because, as he often says, he feels that he should be able to give me so much more. But after the first two visits, I have decided that I already have so much more, in my small and cluttered apartment, than almost anyone else I know.