Prompt from: A Writer's Book of Days
There is a place called home. Some people live there all their lives; others spend all their lives searching for it. I am one of those.
There are tricks that people like me use to pretend we've found home. We call it by the name of a person. We call it a season, a state of mind, the arrangement of a room. These are tricks.
I am not totally sure, however, that even the lucky ones who know where home is really feel at home there. (And here, three minutes in my courage begins to fail). I think there are many people who know that they are home in a town, or a particular building, and still feel at odds at it. Perhaps they are even more unlucky than those of us who feel a hole in our beings; they know where home is, and they do not feel at home there, and they spend their lives pretending they are home when they can't call it home any more than we homeless souls can.
So what is home? What is it? There is an idea that home is the place where you can rest. Someone once said that home is where they have to take you in. Neither of those is useful. I can rest here in my own house, where I can shut out the town that bothers me so much and create my own little reality. But it doesn't serve, and I'm not sure that the building itself is what interferes with my idea of home, or my own messiness (and therefore my own self that prevents me ever being at home), or the fact that I live with other people who sometimes tire me with their difference from myself. Why do I not feel home when I am at home? And do my children feel this way?
When I imagine my ideal living situation, I always leave California for the East Coast. I return to Atlanta, though even in my imaginings it is not the ideal place, the place where I would go if I could choose anywhere in the world. If I let myself dream all the way, I would go back to Falls Church, where my happiness was complete and incomplete at the same time, but which I miss as one misses a lover that didn't quite happen. I do not understand this.
My image of what the building of my home would be also varies. Sometimes it is one of the big, spacious, gracious homes of suburban Atlanta, and I really, honestly would like to live in one of those; at the same time, it sometimes is a cozy little cottage, just for me. Sometimes it is dark, and formal, and contemporary, colored autumn, and in my sweet little cottage it is whites and yellows and cheerful greens with little splashes of coral or orange or teal.
There is no doubt, in this house, which is neither spacious nor gracious nor cozy and cottage-y, that I am generally in the way of my own feeling of home. I want to be in a delightfully spare, neat house, and I inevitably leave clutter on every flat surface and then fail to tidy up effectively. I love having a cat, but I hate his mess and habits, and that makes me treat him as though I don't love him. Of course there is a cat in my imaginary cottage, but if Turbo doesn't make it the cottage will always only have an imaginary cat.
I think I am lost. I am happy to see the end of the fifteen minutes that I allotted to this exercise, but I think it may perhaps be the beginning of my getting in the way of my own happiness. I hope that is the case; I am at the end of my ability to withstand my own blockheadedness.