They say people are walking away from their homes now.
I know that this means that people are abandoning their houses that are, as news puts it, “underwater,” i.e., worth less than people owe the banks for them. But I never hear that term, “underwater,” without imagining these houses’ interiors in some slow watery light. As if their inhabitants one day land their feet on the floor by the bed with a splish, which soon becomes a deeper ploosh. Before they know it, they are paddling to and from the refrigerator; they are reading the New York Times floating from room to room on rafts. But then it becomes too much. Seaweed springs from the corners of the banisters they paid way too much money for, the banisters which, when they stop and think of it, they don’t even really own yet, huh. And the koi—so beautiful in the late afternoon, swimming around in the light of that gorgeous western exposure! But when the catfish move in, those bottomfeeders, taking up residence on the hardwood floors their own feet no longer ever touch, they know it’s time to go. It’s all underwater now. And humans cannot live this way.
As the news puts it, they are “walking away from their homes.” That nostalgic spin in word choice: “their homes.” There they go, locking the door with their worldly possessions still inside—I picture photos of grandparents and books and family relics, all locked within. They turn the key, walk to a nearby bank and drop it in the deposit shoot. Then—they just walk away. Away from it all—some generation of zen masters. Not just walking away from worldly possessions, but walking away from Home, from the idea of it. A simple, somnambulant move, only everyone here is alert and focused. There’s a whole herd of them, calmly leaving their wedding-gift Kitchenaid mixers, their basements full of paint cans and winter clothes, their garden shovels and scrapbooks and every dream and disillusionment they once had for the banks to sort out. Heading blankly, serenely, for the horizon.