I live in the same apartment I’ve lived in since I was born. A week ago, we decided that we were going to repaint the common areas –the foyer, reception, dining area- so we started packing away the furniture. Stacked everything together into one corner of the apartment and covered it up with plastic sheets.
The apartment was basically empty; anything we weren’t using was out of sight. Wooden floors with nothing standing on them and bare walls with nothing hanging off them.
The day after everything got packed; I woke up like I normally would and walked down the hall to the bathroom. Halfway there, I stopped at the sight of this empty home. I couldn’t move for a second because I was suddenly shaken. I had forgotten that the rest of the apartment was empty and when I saw that it was, it felt different; like it wasn’t home anymore, and I didn’t like that.
I felt uneasy at the sight of my childhood home looking different, looking cold. I had grew used to it being a certain way, looking a certain way and feeling a certain way that I had forgotten that after all, it was just walls and furniture. For the first time I realized how attached I truly was to it. I love my apartment; it’s warm the way it is and its home.
And just like that, I realized how grateful I am.
And I realized how privileged I was.
And just like that, standing in the same spot where I got emotional over a few moved pieces of furniture, I got emotional over hundreds of thousands of other people losing their homes, people who were once like me.
People who lose their homes to planes scorching over their heads and pulled grenade triggers. People who lose their homes to harsh voices blaring at them to pack their belongings in one trash bag and walk out, no questions asked. People who lose the innocence of a crib to 12 bullets through a body younger than 12 lbs. People who lose their homes and pieces of themselves along with the bricks that fall to rubble just like the memories they held. People that no longer remember the warmth of a Saturday night and the embrace of a loved one. People who lost everything.
I looked away.
I exhaled and looked away because a lump was forming in my throat and I didn’t want to start my day that way. I had an option most people don’t remember having and I didn’t know whether to feel sorry or angry. Sorry for those who have lost their homes and no longer have the luxury of choice or angry at myself for not realizing how well I had it while others may have had their whole existence crumble to vestiges in front of their own blameless eyes. Angry at those who give themselves the right to take away someone else’s haven. Nothing in this world would ever justify such vileness.
How can a man think he is justified to stand pointing a Tavor at a family of three demanding that a woman silence her 3 year old child while the father begs to keep the four walls he built?
I hope you never have to leave your home or taste the bitterness of injustice. I hope you never have to witness parts of your past being stolen away without having anything to do about it. I hope you can find solace some place or another because you deserve the same privileges others have and I don’t know why they’ve been taken away from you and how no one is saying anything about it, but you don’t deserve to go through this whitewashed departure. Some way or another I hope you find a home. I hope someday you can finally rest easy about tomorrow and welcome it instead of fear it.
And if you already have all that, I hope you never stop thanking the heavens for all the things you have been taking for granted.