door handles

By Daisy Hanmer (@problematic.diaz on Instagram)

*CONTEST WINNER*


i don’t think i’ve ever really had a home.


maybe it’s me. but these places i reside in never seem to stop feeling hostile, altogether unwelcoming. my first house; a house i don’t even remember because my parents did it up together for years, only to move out when i turned one. my second; somewhere spiralling with ivy, a rose plant encroaching over that eighteenth-century red brick, somewhere we had to leave when dad left. his first, modest, rented home; the new house mum bought; london lodgings he stayed in during the week, a new home, new lodgings, and then another. this one with a loft conversion. i stayed up there, perched on my bed, peering out of the skylight and still thinking ‘this isn’t where i belong.’


and even with her, in a house i grew up in, those flat fields and grey skies, the bland landscapes, a sea of indistinguishable faces and rusting tractors, lethargy enveloped me. my two homes juxtaposed one another perfectly. i had the best of both worlds as a kid. i would lie on one bed, and then lie on the other, and i would stare at the ceiling, or at my phone screen, and i would think and think and think; why am i so bored i feel as though i could fade away into my mattress?


when i was fourteen, i started to imagine my dream house with a girl i don’t speak to anymore. she was particular. had a whole pinterest board of door handles she liked. i was unbothered. i just wanted to be somewhere safe, somewhere with her. i imagined a tiny flat in a tower block with all those door handles, a terraced townhouse with all those door handles, a quaint little cottage in the middle of nowhere with all those door handles. i thought those door handles would make a home.


there were more people who trickled in, people who i unlocked the door and turned those handles for. they joined us in our tower block, our town house, our cottage in the middle of nowhere, until they left. flooded out into the woods, weaved between the trees and made tiny streams, trails to the places they now belong. and she left as well, took her favourite door handle with her. i smashed the rest. didn’t know what to do with myself. couldn’t understand how she’d spent all of this time, poured her entire heart into these door handles like i pasted mine on the walls, and then she’d just left.


i left the door open a crack, though. just for her. just in case she decided to wander back into my life and return those door handles to their rightful places.


i’ve never been shucked from a home. i’ve lived in this quaint little cottage my whole life, and over the years people have come and gone, added furnishings and taken them back. an ornate teapot. a lamp. fairy lights. fucking door handles.


but i don’t feel like i’ve ever really had a home. people leave, or they move, and the communication chain is broken. i get a text from dad; he forgot to ring twice this week. he doesn’t care about my university news and is instead so caught up in anything else, the concert he went to, how fucking fantastic ‘knives out’ was. and mum does care, but she has a tired smile and hates her job and i am just someone else. another worry. the kid who got sick and stayed sick and made her lose sleep for the next five years.


i’ve always felt most at home in places i have no connection to, and at the very same time i think home could only be with someone i love more than anything else.


i wonder if that someone should be myself.


i wonder if the reason i’ve never really felt like i have a home is because i’m not comfortable in my own skin, and that is the vessel of my soul that feels eternal. one day, flowers will grow from my bones, i will decompose, rot somewhere between the hills, and i will still roam in search of a home. i will ghost the forests in search of little porcelain shards, a trail of broken door handles. i will stand at a payphone as it rings and rings and rings, and even if dad picks up he won’t hear my words. i will eventually wind back up in that quaint little cottage, having died a year ago, and no one will notice.


that anonymity, that ambiguity i always wanted will only come when i need to be remembered. when my only chance to find a home is in someone’s bereaved heart.


i will probably die in the one place i feel most safe; scotland. the trossachs. it’s a place that means nothing to me. no family who lived nearby. no friends. nothing. just me, dwarfed by a forest bursting with life, staring out across a loch that could swallow a city whole. that is home. that is somewhere soft to land, a nest to weave, a place to cocoon myself in. i love it. i love it more than anything, than a house i don’t remember, a rose bush, rented house after rented house after rented house. more than a quaint little cottage with an ajar entrance and not a single door handle in sight.


like i said, i’ve always felt most at home in places i have no connection to, and at the very same time, i think home could only be with someone i love more than anything else.ould happily decompose in, amidst the moss and lichen. wait until the end of the world, when all that remains is my skull, peering over the tree roots that have spiraled around it.


like i said, i’ve always felt most at home in places i have no connection to, and at the very same time i think home could only be with someone i love more than anything else.


i think i’m going to try. buy my own door handles. look past that payphone. step outside that quaint little cottage, armed only with a cardboard box of the things that matter.


i think i’m going to try and make myself home.


artist note-

the prompt ‘home’ really spoke to me as someone who’s never really felt like they’ve found their home. my piece has a recurring theme of door handles, which symbolises a plethora of things, but it’s really about letting people in, shutting people out, and how the furnishings of a house don’t make a home. at its core, this piece is about trying to find somewhere you’re content within yourself.