A homello, in Shelter parlance, is a type of long-term Shelter housing. Exactly seven feet by seven feet, made of various planks of solid pine, with the space half taken up with a bed (with shelf over lighted headboard and space underneath) and a tiled walkway/locker area. The lockers are surmounted with decorative woodwork that resembles a gabled roof, hence its name. For what it is, it’s strangely appealing.
This personal space is a privilege of inmates that have reached Long Term status: you no longer have to carry your belongings during the day, you pay rent, and you are (in theory) saving money for life Elsewhere, so you’re not supposed to drink. You’re responsible for your own blankets and coverlet, unlike Emergency outside, and there’s at least a modicum of privacy.
Traditionally, the headboard shelf is covered in hair and bath products, the walls with pictures of relatives or “inspirational” material. I had other ideas.
And so, the Swamp was born. Instead of “inspirational” messages, The Swamp majored in snark: visitors were warned “Abandon hope, all ye who enter within
”, pictures included two of Basil Wolverton
’s Women, and a Chaos Magick sigil
“Protect My Home” (mostly to keep out a meddling neighbor). In honor of its namesake in M*A*S*H
, I proudly displayed The Moorish Housemark, as seen in the works of W. Somerset Maugham
. I also had art, in the form of van Eyck's “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”
, and “The Most Wanted Painting: America”. The traditional Shelf o’ Hair Products was ditched (I carried everything in a net bag) in favor of books, a Lucky Cat, and a small cordax philodendron. The floor had a cotton rug, courtesy of IKEA, with my shower flats on it, for nighttime bathroom visits. On the bed were sundry plushes (Tux and Yersinia), a paper quilt(really!), and a linen coverlet, and at its height, the African Clothesline
spread my washing from far to near.
Words alone cannot express the pleasure of retiring to this delicious place every night. Clean clothes had a place in the Locker. Bathroom stuff had a place in the net bag. We had clean linens and towels every night. The African Clothesline afforded a measure of privacy, as well as affording a place to dry my knickers. Freshly showered, it was a wonderful thing to cuddle with my plushes and do yoga, as well as read or have fun with my laptop. (Who needs TV? On the downside, no Internet.) Of course, the best part was planning on how I’d have something better, soon!
Support loved the place, and even photographed it.
The Swamp was a delight to Support but hated by Staff. To tell the truth, I was walking over about half a dozen contraband regulations, but in a way that couldn’t readily be detected: since I don’t smoke, and never used it to light candles or anything else onsite, it went completely under the radar that I owned a lighter. Similarly, I collected packets of ketchup and lemonade mix and the like (for daytime meal enhancement) but never consumed (well, rarely consumed) any After Hours. I took pills, but mostly vitamins, and tried to keep a First Aid kit with a couple aspirins. (Which were sneered on by Staff, who couldn't understand that Ijust didn't hold with modern psychiatric medicine. I figured, keeping what I did take hid, was better than dealing with any interaction at all.) Also, in order to craft anything, I needed sharp edges, so I managed to put together a whole armory of (well-hidden) sharps and sewing supplies. (Which, likewise, we were suposed to keep in The Lockup, but...) The Clothesline offended them, as did some of my Wall exercises, which I did in such a way as to not be immediately viewed by random visitors. “No one wants to look at you skanky underwear. You show’n you cootie back there?” a staffer might say.
Hey, I admit that in some ways I was wrong, but in every other sense I was right: keeping one tiny space in my life in good order kept me sane. If there was one thing I never wanted to jeopardize, it was the Swamp. If I broke rules,I broke them very carefully.
I only wish I had an apartment that I could keep in such good order, and with such a sense of purpose.