I need to write this down. A metaphor that took form in the space between conscious and subconscious as I dozed in my airplane seat. It came with striking clarity, played like a movie to my own narration. It was a couple of hours ago and half a dream so I've forgotten some and will need to rewrite parts, but here goes.
I walk down the street. Through a neighborhood. Rather, a planned neighborhood that never developed. Plots. Lawns, trees, driveways, electric boxes. There's rubble in some, a fallen wall, a collapsed tent, a toppled tipi. They're gloomy. Some so broken I can barely tell what they were, who they were.
Ahead I see a lone house. I've seen it before, a thousand times. Sarah.
Sarah wasn't thrown up in a day, no late night hasty setup to beat the dark. Sarah was built. She took years.
First a wooden frame at a time when wood was the strongest material I had. We built, neither knowing how. No blueprint. We hammered and cut, sometimes building a section only to tear it apart. It wasn't right, it didn't fit. In a year we had a shape. It had holes, lots of them. But it was there, sturdier, more solid than anything before it.
Then we stopped building. Dropped our tools. The frame gathered weeds, but stood. The winds of memory and life blew, but the frame refused to fall. Even when, occasionally, I came and pushed.
So we picked the tools back up. This time there was no deadline. We just built. Sometimes slowly, sometimes in a rush. We'd stop at times, at odds over the next move. Eventually we added siding, bricks, a roof. One by one until there stood a house. We put in furniture, some that she liked, some that I liked.
In all this she logged the most hours, drove more nails, laid more brick. I was scared to work too hard. It's just one house. Will I live in it my whole life? Once it's done, then what? Is that it? What if I want to move?
In the end I didn't move, we didn't tear the house down. No bulldozer. One day I just walked out the front door and never came back. It took Sarah a while to close the door after me, but she did. I don't know if she ever locked it. I don't know if I still have a key.
Other tents have popped up on other plots, only to be blown away or purposely dismantled. She's still there.
I wander through the neighborhood now and then. I look in the windows. Most of the furniture is gone, not sure where. There's weeds and dust.
The road to get there gets longer, windier every time I walk it. Yet, other times I find myself there in the yard, staring at her, unsure of how I got there. Who's feet brought me? Surely not mine. They barely know the way anymore and the street names have changed. But there she is. The frame, the bricks, the roof.
She'll always be there. Others will move into the neighborhood. Some tents, some RVs, probably some houses. I like to think that when I'm living in them I won't look down the road at the brick house and compare. But I will. I will.
To conclude, a question, not my own, but one posed to me post-J outside a fast food joint near the Sea of Galilee. If you were to be an item on the McDonald's menu, which would you be and why?