"Once upon a time, a very long time ago now, about last Friday, Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Sanders.
(“What does ‘under the name’ mean?” asked Christopher Robin.
“It means he had the name over the door in gold letters, and lived under it.”)" --Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne
Is it hokey, I wonder, to name one's home? They do it all the time in books: Wuthering Heights, Tara, Green Gables. Farms that want to do business often have names, so that customers can remember an image and share the name with others. Beds-and-Breakfast (how on earth do you really pluralize that?) always have charming names, Rose Cottage, Paisley Place.
I've thought about this before, as homes where I've lived have begun to take on personalities to me. There's magic in a name, in having something to call something or someone. If you share the name with someone else, you'll both know immediately what you're talking about. If you keep a name to yourself, it's a secret, a way to label something in the silence of your own thoughts.
I laughed when I first saw the sign at the end of our road/beginning of our driveway. Road Ends. Go any farther and you're off the beaten path, you're in my world. Who knows what could happen to you here? Many of my guests comment on the Road Ends sign, saying variously that it's forbidding, funny, confusing, helpful. I laugh with them, because it is fun, trying to figure out exactly what it means. "We live behind the Road Ends sign," I can tell them, and if they've found our road, they can find our house easily enough.
But in the quiet back of my mind, in my heart where I'm not laughing, I wonder. Road Ends. Can it be true? Our road has been winding, stopping and starting, losing and gaining, hurting, hoping, and healing. If we could just settle down, we keep saying. Dare we hope? Dare we trust the sign?
Or maybe the sign isn't making a promise. Maybe the sign itself is an incantation, casting its spell over this place, our friendly wizard at the end of the drive, telling the forces of upheaval that they shall not pass. Maybe, most probably, it's a prayer. Road Ends. Oh please.
Or maybe it's just a sign. Not a sign, but a sign. A road sign. And I've almost begun to think of it as the name badge it kind of looks like for our home-I'm going shopping and then I'm heading back to Road Ends, why don't you come over to Road Ends for the evening, we'll be at Road Ends all day...
A name, as evocative as it is, carries no real promise. "Butch" may be a timid little boy, "Flora" a tomboy. It's just a handle, a way to remember what we're talking about, after all. If "Road Ends" were the name of our home, it wouldn't necessarily mean that we expect it to come true.
But then again, it might.