My room is on the top floor. Its thin walls struggle to keep warmth in and traffic noise out. I’ve been sleeping in it for a day or two more than a week, and it has begun to feel like my room—the sporadic pulses of traffic no more obtrusive than gusts of wind, and I have a space heater now.

I didn’t like my room when I first moved in. It didn’t have Flynn, for one thing. I brought him over from my parents’ one night, and we slept on my foam pad together. At some point in the night he crept off to poop in the basement—a fact I didn’t discover until a couple days later—which confirmed my suspicions that he was as forlorn as I was, even if we expressed it differently. The next morning, I took him back to my parents’ and we stayed the rest of the weekend alone together there, but at least not alone together in the mostly empty house with the thin-walled room.

My housemate Micah decided to throw a housewarming party before we had anything but a loveseat and a dining room table with six chairs. “Where will people congregate?” I asked him. He laughed. The next day he bought ten folding chairs, which we situated in a circle around the room with the loveseat. When he came home from working that day, he set about making food for the party, warming the house with smells of cooked peppers and pulled pork. We arranged some snacks and wine on the table, coupled with an assortment of mason jars he bought because we also didn’t have any dining-ware yet.

People from our church began knocking on our door. My parents and grandpa showed up. “Did you have any trouble parking?” I asked everyone, worried about the amount of space along the busy street.

“I parked on the other side of the block.”

“Was it a long walk?”


More bottles of wine, more beer, more bread, cheese, and other snacks began filling up the dining room table. People walked around, peering into rooms, oohing and aahing at things they noticed.

“I’m glad it has wood floors like your old place, Micah.”

“Great backyard—that’s a big tree!”

“That’s seriously the cutest bathtub I’ve ever seen.”

I didn’t notice my family wander up the stairs to check out my room. I was chatting with some friends when my mom came down the stairs with a frown on her face.

“It depressed you, didn’t it?” I said.


I told that to Micah later. “She should have looked at my room,” he said. “It would have cheered her right back up.”

After everyone finished eating, we gathered in the living room with the loveseat and the folding chairs for an eclectic liturgy prepared by Micah. We read Bible verses, moved through a few call-and-response prayers, and sang songs and hymns accompanied by a violin and a guitar. I got to know most of the people in the room over the past few months, including Micah. We blessed the house together anyways.

My room is on the top floor. It has the dresser my mom used when she was a kid, cardboard boxes and freestanding stacks of books on the floor, a foam pad for sleep, and a plain, white desk, donated to me by the family of an old friend after it had been donated to them by me when my family left the house on Enchanted Valley seven years ago. Sometimes I hear Micah’s viola singing from downstairs while I write. Sometimes I hear pots and pans clanking, water running, and oil sizzling as he cooks while I read. Sometimes the house is quiet, and I’m quiet, and the street outside—for a moment—is quiet, and my thoughts and my desires and my dreams are all quiet, and I let myself wonder if all shall be well, really. Am I alive in my room? Am I alive? Am I alive?


  1. Kyric Koning

    I like how you are willing to probe the question, “What makes a home a home?” and by the end you don’t have an answer. And while it might not always be a comforting thing, it is not always a bad thing.

    • Debra K Rienstra

      Viola?! You live with a violist?? You’re going to be just fine, Will.


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