A home is not be built on the table of an architect

Two couples I know recently purchased their first homes together. Aalya & Dietrich in old Gatineau and Katie & Michael off of Pretoria Bridge in Ottawa.

Visiting their homes has given me an itch that I will scratch in a little while. I’ve decided that should I be single by a specific date, I too will purchase my first home.

I was too shy to take pictures of the later’s home, buil in the early 1930s (likely 1932) and is a gorgeous three bedroom with the world’s greatest bedroom nook, attic and kitchen. The kitchen is enormous and entirely new, including the stainless steel appliances. They also have a beautiful mudroom in which the perfect light fixture would be a chandelier of sorts in order to lush & warm-up the entrance.

More importantly, they have a deep soaker tub in their upstairs bathroom beneath a window, the colours of the bathroom being blue and white, I couldn’t help but envision the complementary nature of nautical decor.

Because they’re intelligent folk, they’ve turned one of the upstairs bedrooms into their television room. This then leaves their sitting area on the main floor just that: a welcoming sitting area the focus of which will be the people and not the television set.

My two favourite spaces are their bedroom nook and attic, both of which I have in my head and heart assigned to Katie rather than Michael. The bedroom nook is a perfectly square corner linked both to the bedroom and an enclosed sun-filled side balcony that would be perfectly met with a hammock, plants and white lace curtains. The nook itself is screaming for either a perfect vanity (also for Katie) and a Persian rug or a reading chair, an ottoman and a thin long side table on which Katie (not M) can place candles, pictures and reading materials beneath the window to be drowned in sunlight.

Due to the size of the window, Kate (not…well, you get it) could place heavy velour drapes that would swoop along the floor and which could be pulled back with luxurious and maybe even sparkly rope tie-backs.

Finally there’s the attic that, even though needs some work, serves as the perfect ‘girl’ space. There’s a beautiful slant to the ceilings and one large window at the far end which brings in enough sunlight to light up the entirety of the attic.

As soon as I walked up the stairs, all I could see was the area’s future; soft carpeting, cream, and sage walls, a couple of single sink-in-to reading chairs and rounded glass vases filled with white flowers next to the window that will be covered in a cream coloured lace curtain and tied back with a red satin ribbon. This is where K will hide either alone with a book, a good cry or a girlfriend who needs the comfort of private conversation.

They will be listening to Bach. This is the same space that will be taken over by Kate and Michael’s daughter when she wants to daydream in private; it may even be the space in which she explores her artistic side through the artwork she’ll create and hang on it’s very walls.

As the title of this entry suggests, K & M’s place is already a home and not merely a house. This home is a space created not on the architectural foundation, but rather based on the team that is Michael and Kate. There was a moment of interaction between them which I will share with you and which I hope you have already – and if not yet, then you will some day soon – experience in your lives.

This house already has a history of families and living memory, and to which their own family story will be added; the next owners of the house will say “…and then we bought it from Michael and Kate who moved in in 2007 and it’s in this house that they built their family. When they handed us the keys, they walked out holding hands and Michael said: ‘Check out that awesome railing. Now compare it to that railing! That’s my work. Do you remember when I did that?'” The house will be filled with thousands of stories, of which the following is the one I will likely remember most.

It was Kate who lent me the book The Time Traveller’s Wife. When she handed it to me, I noticed how immaculately kept it was. I’m looking at it right now; the spine is not cracked, there is no writing anywhere, no passages underlined, no fingerprints on the pages or even dog ears.

I joked how each and every one of my books was a mess compared to this. On the inside cover of a book, I write my name, phone number, address, and the most important points of my current autobiographical situation (e.g. “Had Vietnamese last night with Di and Pierre and ate too much hot sauce. Tummy hurts.”).

Worse still is that throughout my books there are notes in the margins, passages underlined and more autobiographical data (e.g. “Just had a slight row with X, am feeling sad and this book is the only thing I can concentrate on. It’s 2.12 pm and I am seated alone in the park on a bench.”).

Kate had run upstairs to find the book. When she returned, she handed it to me and then sat back down across the coffee table from me next to Michael. As I was explaining the trauma I inflict on my books, I looked up and noticed that they were looking at one another smiling, but Kate with an obviously ‘made for us’ look of worry on her face. Michael laughed, nudged her and said “Hey. You should get that book back, I don’t think you should even lend it to her!” and we all started laughing while I clutched the book even harder

There was something in that moment that can only be understood between those who deeply love and cherish one another. I know it may seem insane to some of you, but to me it was clear: They were a team. There was a solidarity between them and even though it was in reference to the slightest object, a book, I understood immediately that an interaction such as that sheds light on to the rest of a relationship.

It is only natural that in all relationships there are moments of tension and hurt and anger. Hopefully, these moments are outweighed by love and tenderness, secrets shared and moments lived that will never be experienced beyond the couple.

As with Michael and Kate, this is because: They are a team. It’s a small sentence but its sense is great enough to touch anyone who sits near them.

I left that evening thinking about what defines a healthy relationship, and I now believe that a great part of that definition has to do with looking out for one another and sharing a sense of humour.

It is placing ourselves into the shoes of our partners and understanding their psychology and their history, their wounds and their happiest moments.

It is redefining everything we understand in order to add as much of their comprehension to our own.

It is never letting them fight on their own but always fighting next to them and maybe even fighting one another in order to protect that very Team.

It is doing the impossible to never let the other one hurt and always making certain to protect and cherish what the other one loves. It is a challenge that we must face and overcome every day. To some this may seem the most difficult aspect of a relationship but to me, it is this very vulnerability and demanding nature of love that makes us different and hopefully, better people than we could ever hope to be on our own as single individuals.

Most times and more often than not, we fail at this for any one of a multitude of reasons. In the case of Michael and Kate, likely never, Inshallah.