I am reading a book of essays by Barbara Kingsolver, whom I love, love, love. She is hands down my favorite writer. Kris gave me High Tides in Tucson for Christmas, and I’m only halfway through the first essay, but the chapter titled, “In Case You Ever Want To Go Home Again” inserted itself with perfect timing into our Dialogue Across the Pacific. So in lieu of having anything else new and meaningful to share:
“You can fool history sometimes, but you can’t fool the memory of your intimates. And thank heavens, because in the broad valley between real life and propriety whole herds of important truths can steal away into the underbrush. I hold that valley to be my home territory as a writer. Little girls wear food on their chins, school days are lit by ghostlight, and respectable men wear their undershirts at home. Sometimes there are fits of laughter and sometimes there is despair, and neither one looks a thing like its formal portrait.”
So many good points from all of these discussions. And what I take away is, what is home? Is it a place? A particular time in my life? A gathering of people who share the same blood, or the same ideas? Yes. To all of the above. Florida is my home. Though there is not a house I can call a home, that location is where I am grounded, where my family still resides (the family with the ever-changing address). How I look at that sense of home is different, now that I am away. And I know that I can never go back to what it was before. Not that I really want to. I am thankful for where and how I was raised. No regrets. Plenty of lessons learned. Even when I think about calling certain cities home, really, they feel that way because of the people there. I feel just as much at home in Stephanie and Brian’s living room as I do my own. And I have sat in their living room in four different cities and twice as many houses. (side note of accomplishment: I have slept in every house they have lived in with the exception of the second house in Birmingham and the current home.) So when I talk about going home, being at home, finding a home – what I want to encompass is all of that. Good friends, comfort, maybe a little bit of familiarity, mixed with the excitement of something new to learn. Maybe I’m not meant to be in one place for long. Maybe I am. I have this picture of where I’ve been – though I’m sure it wouldn’t quite match up to pictures others may have, and its definitely nothing like the postcard. And I also have this dream of what home will be like one day. Something worth looking and working for. I know that at heart, I will always be a wanderer. No matter where or for how long I end up. “Being a wanderer isn’t so much about being happy; rather, it’s about encountering divine things.” (that’s Greg, not Barbara) True. The divine things that I seek: love, laughter, peace, grace, quiet comfort, noisy gatherings over food, beauty….these things are everywhere. So I guess maybe that makes everywhere a bit of home? Can home really be 5 or 6 different places, all at the same time? You can argue if that’s true or not, but for me, there is not doubt that its true. I will always be a Floridian, home will always smell like baking and dogs, and sound like guitars and friendly voices. Home will always be in Stephanie’s living room – even when she gets a new couch – home will always be where I grew emotionally and spiritually in Kentucky. Soon I will say that home will be the hard places I grew out of in Hong Kong. Home will be the open road, the countless airplanes, the pictures of far away and very near places, and the idea of what’s next.
“If you ask me, when something extraordinary shows up in your life in the middle of the night, you give it a name and make it the best home you can.” ~Barbara Kingsolver