Funeral home. Funeral parlour. Mortuary. Whatever you call it, you probably only go rarely, and only when summoned to. Like other places of death—ambulances, hospitals, hospices—the necropolis remains marginal in most people’s lives.
I’ve been to a dozen funerals, at least.
At each one, people offered condolences, shook hands, cried, and stood in circles, talking and meeting funeral family, people we only see in times of death.
My home is a collage of recent and not-so-recent Ikea catalogues. I eat at an Ikea table, sit on Ikea chairs, work at an Ikea desk, arrange my books on Ikea shelves, lounge on an Ikea couch, draw Ikea curtains, and sleep on an Ikea bed. And in this collage, the actual Ikea catalogue sits in a pile of brochures and pamphlets in the living room’s Ikea coffee table. Where my private home meets the famed catalogue of domesticity and an Ikea public showroom is a blurry line.
Last year, this sort of public-private fuzziness took centre stage in Saudi Arabia, with the erasure of women from the catalogue’s kitchens, living rooms, and bathrooms, and in Paris, with the simulation of an Ikea-furnished home life in a train station.
On a cold June day in Indiana, we woke in a Super 8 motel near the highway and drove to Decatur, a small industrial town three hours north of Indianapolis. In a huge parking lot, 100 white RVs (recreational vehicles) waited for their “relocators,” the people who would drive the RVs to Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Excited about the adventure ahead of us, we quickly walked to the heart of the fleet. We read Sam’s family name, written on fluorescent yellow cardboard, in one of the RV’s windows. We posed for photos as though we had just purchased our first home. The 20-minute orientation lasted long enough to raise more questions than the three staff could answer. We’d have to figure it out as we drove across country.
The RV, quickly renamed Jambo and regarded as a male travel companion, had only a few kilometres on his odometer. Welcome to the road, baby!
During our 18-day 8-state 5500-kilometre road trip, Jambo played several roles.