The Molecular Structure of Home
Illustrated by Samantha Campbell
This piece is part of the "World in a Grain of Sand" project, which invites people to envision an object from various points of view––scientific, artistic, technological, historical, philosophical––and to show the many associations and interconnections that can be glimpsed in any particular object. One of the objects the project invites people to consider are “grains”––or any of the "units" that make up our world, from grains of sand to cells to atoms to sub-atomic particles to planets to galaxies and others, including perhaps "the unit" of the individual, the family, a society.
Little pieces of drywall dust and maybe asbestos, who knows, fly into the air when you pull out a thumbtack to take down that poster you put up when you were fourteen and angry. Paint chips that fall will need to be cleaned up; little leftover holes that will need to be filled in at some point—your meticulous father makes a point of telling you. Dust somehow gathers on the narrow ledge of baseboards, on the top of curtain rods. Fingerprints on all the windows never seem to wash off no matter how many times your mother uses Windex. Pieces of dust and hair gathered around the bathtub, a faded outline of the smiley face drawn on the mirror when the room was filled with steam, a ring of soap scum around the drain, a rag left out with the hope that you'd use it... Dirt has trailed up the stairs this morning when somebody realized, walking out the door, that their wallet was left in yesterday's pants.
Sesame seeds and breadcrumbs on the kitchen counter; a centiliter of milk in the bag because nobody wants to go get a new one in the basement fridge. Old fruit in the fruit tray, oil stains in the driveway. Smiles, in picture frames on the wall of the living room, fading as the sun creeps away from the front window. Smells. Familiar yet indescribable smells.
An atomically ingrained feeling of life, left by itself until the first person comes back to the house.