Sunday, July 18, 2010

away from home

For some people, defining "home" is easy. They've lived in the same town, region, or state their whole lives. Their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, for the most part, live there too. And there's some sort of invisible, intangible cord that ties them to this place.

In my life, defining "home" isn't nearly as neat and orderly. Tonight, I am away, thinking about home, and wondering how to figure out just where home is for me.

Truth is, Doylestown will always be home in some sense of the word. It's the place with the most big growing up memories. It's the place that I went to school, returned empty pop bottles for pennies, and played Barbies with my sister. It's the place where I went to church every Sunday, ate Gom cookies, and marched in the Homecoming parade. My first kiss, my first date, my first high-heeled shoes. And then, somewhere around the time when I turned 17, I realized it was just the first stop on the journey. That's when I figured out the first rule about home. It isn't the place, it's the family. It's Mom and Dad and my sisters that make it home. As long as they are there, it will be one place I call home.

Houston was home for awhile. While so many people think it must be a horrible place to call home, it worked for me. It's the place I first met myself.

"Hello, You."

"Pleased to meet you."


I built a life for myself and my family there. I learned what it was I liked in Houston. Chinese food, yes. Sushi, no. I learned how to do things by myself, write good stories, and how to pick good coffee. I learned that age is a state of mind, and that being a mother has nothing to do with pregnancy. I found a voice, then used it to say, "this place no longer feels like home."

One day, a few years later, I found myself living in a rent house in Sioux Falls. The carpet was ugly, the weather hard to get accustomed to, and the pace of life slow and simple. I found my soul mate and a reason to stay. Soon it was home. Not like Doylestown home, and not like Houston home, but a whole new home, and a whole new life.

Now here I am in a hotel room in California missing home. Most of all I miss Steve Check Spellingand Scout, though I would be lying if I didn't mention that the extra free time is doing me good. I can't say as I miss South Dakota right now. But I miss my boys. I miss their smiles, Scout's sweet voice, and Steve's touch. I don't miss the lists of things to do, or the weather, or the drive to Iowa every morning. But I miss home.

Here's the thing. I'm still not sure that I've made my last move, or where we'll end up. But this I know: (I learned it from my mom and dad at home.) Home is about family. No matter where I go, I have a place in the world. Any city will do, as long as my family is there. Geography is about place. Home is about family.

Scout caught his first fish today, and I wasn't home to see it. That's a shame. But there will be more fishing at home over the next few years, and I'll be home to enjoy it.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

hello annabelle

I've been feeling that little tug that says it's time. It happens every time I try to distance myself from the work. For the last few years I have had loads of excuses for not writing. I'm too tired. I'm uninspired. Scout zaps all my energy. There's so much to do around the house. And my favorite...there's no time.

And then it arrives, the need to buy a new journal, get a purple pen, and the urge to stay up after everyone else has gone to bed. Then the words come and they won't leave me alone. It's a phrase that I know is the beginning of something, or a word that begs for a partner and haunts my space.

The tug turns into a pinch, which turns into a brick wall in the face. Get back to work. This is my fate. The pursuit of beautiful nagging words that must be put together to become more than the sum of their parts becomes the very reason I exist. My muse, (hello dear Annabelle), has returned with a vengeance. And she's not leaving anytime soon.

I am here tonight because she made me come. I don't really know how all of this will turn out, except to say that it will turn out. And I will write here, and there, and in that new journal, with a purple pen.

This is just a beginning again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

ice day

Working from home today. The last few days I have been driving to Iowa in dense fog - the entire earth seems shrouded in white. Desolation seems the theme, and then, rising gracefully out of the haze there's this tree. It is stately, tall, and crystallized, and I am amazed at its beauty. I think to myself, this is something I should appreciate. This is something that I should notice. Afraid to stop, I keep driving and wish I had a camera. This will not last, and I will forget when the fog lifts and the sun shines. I will never remember the quiet of this morning. Not sure how to feel about this.

So many of life's special moments are this way. When Scout takes my face in his hands and gently rubs my cheeks, or the way he "reads" his favorite books to me, getting some of the words mixed up, and looking to me for guidance. Will I forget the serious look he gets on his face when he's puzzled, or the joy I see when I surprise him at daycare and he rushes into my arms and says, "Mommy."

While the human brain is amazing, in its imperfection it omits the memories of these little details of life in favor of important dates or deadlines. And I wish the opposite were true. I wish I had a camera in my pocket every day so that I could take the picture that would record these moments. And then I remember that the camera can't record the feelings, the joy, the awe, the silence. Just pictures. Words are in the same way never good enough to help us relive those moments.

And so for me the takeaway is this: Stop, close your eyes, and be - in that moment, in that place, with that feeling. See what there is to see, not just on the surface, but the essence. Hear the silence, feel the joy, touch the magic places and know that they are fleeting. It is in those moments, we are one with what is divine and awesome and perfect. It is in those moments that we are truly alive.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

So it's Saturday, and I realize just how long it's been since I sat in front of this screen and tried to write something that's not about education or technology. But that's really okay. As for jobs, I have one of the good ones.

But Steve is working and Scout is sleeping and my Christmas tree is still up - though a bit droopy - and I'm trying to make myself be motivated to take it down. Probably not going to happen.

The sun is shining here in South Dakota, but the snow still reaches the for the top of the windows and cold is the word of the day, and the day before, and the day before that. It reaffirms the extent to which one will go for love. Before meeting Steve, I would never have considered hanging my hat in this state of extremes. But perhaps it is a reflection of me in some ways. I've never been one to take the middle ground, but have always set up shop on one end of an issue or the other, so it is somehow fitting that I now live in a place where temperatures, landscapes, even cornfields are extreme - stretching for miles under the summer sun, or looking like tundra when the snow blankets them.

My mind longs to find time to work on "my stuff" - an unfinished book, a poem or two, and this space where I can write just about anything I want. Now that I've found a few moments, I feel as if there is nothing in me to write.

I could write about the way the snow sparkles in the sun, or the way the drifts rise and fall. I could write about temperatures that are below zero, that make it virtually unihabitable in this place. I could write about missing my people in Ohio and in Texas. Maybe when it's been so long there are too many topics.

Right now the keyboard feels good under my fingertips, but I am being poked to action by unfinished laundry and cats to feed. There is no peace - and that's where the not-writing begins.

Maybe next week, when Steve is fishing on the ice in Minnesota, I will find the peace to write.