Sunday, August 14, 2011

For Amy

I "met" Amy through blogging, but then something changed - either she stopped blogging or something happened, we lost track. But then we found each other on Facebook. You can't plan for wonderful connections like this! Anyway she asked some of us to write about going home for an article she's writing. THANK YOU Amy for asking me to think about this. It has been an interesting process.

The household I grew up within was chaotic and often very unhappy, overcrowded and full of disregard. It never felt like home, nor has any place since felt like my home. I've lived all my life in the homes of others, such as my ex husband, ex partner, ex housemates. None of those places ever felt like mine. I carved out a corner or maybe a whole room in those places, but it was always crystal clear that the houses themselves were someone else's home, not mine. The apartments I have rented have never felt like home either. Everywhere I've ever lived has been a waystation, a place to put my feet down temporarily. Lord I was born a ramblin' woman.

Now don't feel sorry for me, please! I've learned how to notice moments when I can relax and feel at home no matter where I'm living. Cool, hey? There are landscapes and seasons, times of day and a number of activities that make me feel at home. For instance, cleaning house, cooking, gardening (such as I engage in that), and entertaining all give me a great sense of belonging. "Tending" or contributing to the upkeep of wherever I am is a beautiful feeling. I love feeding people. Making dinner is such a sweet feeling of being home!

I'm very much at home on the swampy landscape of Washington DC. My feet feel like they belong on the ground here - don't ask me why - especially in fall and winter, my two favorite seasons. Spring is hard because of my allergies and summer? Well, I'm not very much at home during summer here, but summer passes after which I'm all comfy and cozy again.

Though I loved so many things about San Francisco, the land there was never right for me. The ground always shakes, mostly in too subtle a way to viscerally notice, but it's there. I was uneasy in San Francisco, always. Portland, Oregon was an even less perfect landscape. The land was wrong for me, it just didn't fit.

It's funny or ironic or maybe just bizarre, that the landscape where I feel most at home is Somerset and Wiltshire counties in England. I have no justifiable connection to that place, no family or friends in the area. Still, the moment my foot touches the ground there, I am absolutely resplendent with a feeling of being home. I saw this same phenomena when I was in India with my ex husband. He was far more at home in the cacaphony of Benares than in his home town of New Haven, Connecticut. Interesting, hey?

Being diurnal, I am at home in daylight, but not so much at night. When it gets dark I'm always slightly uncomfortable; even on the most beautiful moonlit night. I like Brother Sun, I like to wake up when he does and spend my time in the light of day. I'm at home in daylight, I am!

When I was growing up, my family didn't feel like home, but they do now. My sibs, their kids, and their kids' kids all feel like home to me. I am rich in family! Also among my nearest and dearest friends, I can breathe and relax, and feel utterly at home.

Sometimes I feel jealous when people talk about the family home, a place they can always return to, where they always feel welcomed, a structure in which they grew up, an attic or basement full of their drawings from grade school and such. My own experience is so radically different it's hard to even imagine. Wow. But the cool thing is: I figured out how to make myself at home no matter what. So, that's good, right?

Amy thank you so much for asking me to think about this. Very fun! Can't wait to see the finished article.


ellen abbott said...

You just don't put down roots I guess. When we decided to move to the country, pulling up my roots from the city house was painful. I had lived there longer than any other place in my life, had born and raised my children there. Now it no longer feels like home, empty of our stuff and falling into decay and disrepair but I haven't rooted deeply at the country house. It's home and I like it out here but I think I could leave easily enough if we decided to move again.

Amy said...

Bravo! I love it! Not only have I learned something about you, but have also realized that we continue to discover ways that we are more alike than different. Thank you SO much for doing this and for being so willing to share this piece of you. You're a jewel you are!

P.S. Ellen...thank YOU, too. All of these thoughts and perspectives are helping me tremendously.

Jo said...

Reya, how adaptable you are! You remind me of the Mary Engelbreit card that exhorts us to "Bloom Where You Are Planted!"

By contrast, I lived in ONE house from the age of 3 until I graduated high school. College was 30 minutes away. When I married and my husband insisted we move from Kansas City to St. Louis (a mere 300 miles), it might has well have been to Neptune! I did NOT adapt easily!

Now, after more than 30 years here, I have only recently begun to say my hometown is St. Louis...I certainly could use some of your adaptability!

Great story, great idea. Thanks for sharing, Reya. ♥

Dibs said...

We moved constantly when I was a kid; I attended 10 schools K-12. I always longed for a hometown, and as Ann Arbor was as close as I had, we relocated there in 97 and were very happy there.

Sadly, the economy forced us to move in 09 to a place that none of us considers home -- even my kindergartener brings me photos of our old house and asks to go back home.

The area where we now live holds values greatly different from our family's core values and it isn't likely to be "home" ever -- it is as if the four of us are just marking time here. However, we are marking time while employed...

I don't like to think of my 7th grader being adult who says, "I was happy until I was 10 and then we lived in a place that sucked until I could graduate and get the hell out," but in spite of my efforts to make this place home, it seems pretty likely.

As always, your post gave me a great deal to think about.

SG said...

Yeah, that is the spirit. be at home, no matter what. I loved your post. It in fact made me think about where I feel at home. Somehow, every city, every town I have lived in, has been my home at that point. Till now, I haven't found the answer to the question of where I belong. May be everywhere!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

Steve Reed said...

Interesting! Home is certainly a spiritual place as well as a geographical one -- and I can understand having a spiritual home that's very different from where you actually live. (Like your comfort in England.) Interesting writing!

Nancy said...

I feel that same way about Lake Tahoe. I'm home when I'm there. The smell of water, pine and mountains. Home.