I once held this fantasy, but it has since grown up. Now I find myself wearing armor to bed and long past holding any weighty regret for this not materializing.
Still, as a story, it is sweet, though treacle and naive. Still, the possibility holds some reservation in part of my brain as a comfortable retreat.
It goes something like this:
He wakes and looks at her, still sleeping. He wants to climb over the bundled blanket that separates them and feel her skin on his. He settles for a kiss on the top of her head. Up, he knows the day will be difficult in ways he’s not yet prepared for. Many are, but not more than his mettle. He also knows that there is opportunity for adventure and reaching higher. He will leave the warmth of the bed and enter the fire of the world, winning and losing in unequal measure. He will live it. She will be his witness for bits of it, his partner for others, his comfort for even others.
Some of what he will bring home will be set on their table, and will allow her to set aside some of the challenges she faces alone, free to give chase to those parts of her world where she feels the need to hunt; his addition to the pot. Some will fuel her. Some will inspire her.
Some of what he brings home will be only for sharing.
The rest he saves for himself; he still labors for his own dreams, after all. In this significant way, he contributes to the building of her as she builds herself, he himself, and they themselves.
And he knows she will do the same. A promise.
And when they build together, making plans, agreeing to the split and combined duties, their shared lives touch, like branches reaching over the path, sprouting from trees on either side. And in that touching, there is something lasting that is unique.
It is the smallest unit of community; not the stars, not the world, not the nucleus of his own life, but a place where a covalent bond is built on the concept that it matters to make a home. A base where there is always a place to rest and a source of renewal. And more. A place that makes its own energy for more than living. A place to inspire. Not the roots of him, but the soil.
A plant can grow in a hydroponic plate, with a nutrient soaked sponge to anchor the roots, and a view to the sky or other source of light. The petri dish is transportable and transplantable. A home is more. It is the soil. Fixed in “location”, although not necessarily physical, but ever changing in composition.
In the grown-up version, I replace her with them. Still home, still hard, still valuable, still precious, but they initially have little to add in the hard accounting, merely fledglings. I provide the safety, the stability, the lessons. At least starting out and well into childhood. What they do provide is purpose, not necessarily burden, although sacrifice is always required. And here is why it is so satisfying to put aside personal momentum: home.
They grow, and as needs change, so does the role of home. They begin to contribute to the home in physical and metaphysical ways. The home grows into something bigger, and in a way, more solid and yet more flexible than ever. My responsibilities change from feeding mouths to feeding growing lives, including mine and those that are not mine to own and soon wholly separate. Theirs grow in proportion to their ability. Bonds keep us close, now based less on necessity, but on respect and a view to increase ourselves by increasing each other. They inspire me to grow just as I inspire them. I still fight the dragons and sow, reap, and store the harvest.
Fantasy, yes. The idea of stability and change playing off of each other is one of those apparently contradictory, yet beautifully balanced notions that the universe often sets up, just to tease us. I see it, even if I don’t trust it. Democracy is hard, and nothing is entitled. The promise of home is often the constant that keeps us moving together.