Saturday, December 26, 2009
Townies vs Transients
Walking a few miles to pick up my car last week, I had plenty of time to think while passing places I see every day. I live here, almost 17 years now, but I still don’t think of this as “home”. It is not my “home town” as in the place I was born. I only lived there for a few days so that does not count. I don’t think of my childhood home where I graduated high school to be my “home town” either. Only one bond of friendship remains from those days.
Around mile number 2, I realized, I don’t’ have roots to anyplace. My “home” is my studio. I feel most at home in that location with the thoughts and ideas inside my head. My children will always call this house and this town their home. It is all they have ever really known. It is the address I can fill in with my eyes closed, but I remember all the previous ones too, they are numbers and letters that define a segment of my life.
Does this bother me? No. I feel at home other places too. Sitting in church over the holidays, I felt a twinge of being “home” since it was the place we married and where our children were baptized. But it is not my “home church”; I don’t have one of those. I feel at home in the woods, hiking along trails where the sun makes puzzles out of shadows. I feel at home in school buildings because I was (and still am theoretically) a teacher. I feel at home in some museums, but not all of them. I have to be in a gallery where the art is speaking to me on a creative level, inspiring thoughts for new projects, not just sitting on pedestal or hung on the wall. I feel at home with some members of my family, but not all of them. My friends are more of a family to me than some of my relatives because it is my friends that I can call at 3am in a crisis or who have provided a shoulder when needed. I could go on and on with this type of analogy but you get the idea.
So when asked the question, “Where are you from?” I often don’t know how to answer with any sincerity. The closest city is my standard response since my town is not really known (unless you are from here too). “Where do you live?” is just as bad. Being the snarky person that I am, I like to reply “in a house” (or in a tent if I am particularly perturbed at the time). Where’s home? Is the one I like the least because the honest answer is “I don’t have one, I am homeless”. Most people take that literally. I mean it figuratively. Home is anyplace where I feel comfortable, happy, inspired, safe and so forth. Think about it, we “clean house” or “clean up the house”, we do “household chores” and “housework”; we are called a “housewife” and make “house payments”, all of which sound silly when substituted with “home”. I live in a house, sometimes it is home and sometimes it is not. I consider myself like a tortoise. I carry my home with me, inside my heart, around my shoulders, able to carry others if needed, able to retreat inside at will. It is a strong shelter with a soft underbelly; I stick my neck out now and then, while plodding along at a steady pace. And it was my steady pace that got me to the car repair shop in a timely manner, having noticed lots of places I never really saw before. Ensconced in my car, it was back to rabbit speed, racing towards some goal or another, wondering if I would make it “home” on time to pick up the house.