The other day my friend Lynn posed the question to her facebook people: “what one word describes your 2010?” My experience in expressive arts tells me that the only way to answer such a question is to answer it quickly. If you respond quickly and think about it later, you can open the door to some unexpected personal insight.
I answered with “New.”
I think it was a good word. In 2010 I changed strategies in a number of realms. Early in the year I re-vamped my blog and moved it to a platform that I think better reflects the spirit behind the writing. In turn, I started photographing more and began to pull together some shots that have further captured the theme I’m going for. I spent a good part of last winter documenting my ideas of “beauty” and the sources of it around me in my daily travels. I was rewarded, again, to find how one step leads to another – and these steps led me straight out of a funk – personal as well as creative.
Later in the year it occurred to me to stop looking for “home” and just to live in a fun spot and let home come to me. I get all over my writing students for resorting to clichés, but it’s a lesson I seem to learn over and over again: get out of the past and the future and get living in the moment. THAT’s when the change happens – not when I'm thinking about it, mourning it, planning it, hoping for it, wishing for it.
Still later in the year, pretty recently, I decided to revamp me. I vowed I would try more, trust more, BE more and stay devoted to reflecting the authentic me. I carried that focus on authenticity around with me as I shopped, in the books I chose, friends I found, and in the ways I approached my jobs and free time endeavours. I knew that the most important part of this personal revamp was to drop some walls – particularly because it also included the return to the pursuit of romantic love. I explored the opening of some chakras and worked at smiling at strangers more often and (sorry another cliché) being the change I want to see. Again with the small steps leading me in directions I never imagined.
So the end of the year arrived, and some wonderful surprises have presented themselves. For different reasons, I’m not writing about them yet. But I can say that I have more than one reason to step forward into 2011 anticipating much more NEW. And I’m filled with optimism and hope that some kind of ball is rolling and that you’ll join me in its path.
It’s day one of a new year. I don't know what the word will be for 2011 – but it doesn't matter. I'm sticking in the now and rolling with the rhythms. I do know that I'm really glad you're here to discover it all along with me.
One of my favourite bloggers, Sandra at Herzensart, wrote a post about the idea of “home” the other day. She posted pictures of her grandparents’ home, and talked of how lovingly her grandmother spoke of it, and the stories she would tell about it. She asked readers how they defined the concept of “home” and I was surprised that a number of her readers couldn’t identify a relationship to any particular home. Strangely, that heartened me a little.
I’ve been preoccupied with the idea of “home” for some time. Mainly because I feel like I’ve been looking for home for almost six years now. There is part of me that is probably resisting it, that has no intention of ever finding home. In certain periods of my life I felt trapped – trapped by my youth; trapped in a bad marriage; trapped in a part of the province my entire family had moved away from; trapped by loneliness. I see this ongoing resistance to being trapped as both liberating and disorienting. Managing a perpetual disengagement can be exhausting over time, you know?
But what is home? And why do I want it so bad? Looking back over my life, I have real love for a couple of places I’ve lived in – others are just tucked in an unused, dusty corner of memory, more of an informational file rather than holding any sort of meaningful, formative impact on my life. Or maybe the meaningful formative impacts are things I’m just not wanting to address at this point because I’m a great big avoider.
Of the places I’ve lived I think mostly of the home I sold six years ago. I think of it with great affection and longing for the comforts and strength I felt there. My girls were six and eight when we moved in, and I sold up when my youngest went away to college and my oldest was out on her own.
I knew that house was for us the instant I walked in the front door for the first time. It was pretty as a picture – with white stucco exterior and brown trim, on an old street lined with old trees that lead to the river. The interior was filled with oak trim and original wood floors. The stairs creaked marvellously and it had three stained glass windows in greens and golds. It was haunted by a ghost who looked like Johnny Cash, and our orange cat Woody used to like to sit at the highest point of the stair’s banister, where he could keep watch over his world. The small kitchen had five doorways, and there was a large foyer area, the same size as the living room, in which I was able to place the biggest Christmas tree I could cram into the back of my Honda. It had a large front porch on which we sat every single day in warm weather and over many late nights.
The house was terribly impractical and needed more repairs than I could afford to carry out. The basement flooded regularly, the sunroom roof leaked, the electrical system was antiquated, the old windows needed to be propped open with sticks and it was drafty as hell in winter. But we loved it. It was a house filled with love and growing (both girls and mom) and music and talking and laughter. And when there were tears the house wrapped around us and gave us a place in which to feel safe.
So what is it about that house? It was where I started over. But I’ve started over before that, and after it and don’t associate any connection with places I lived in then.
Maybe it’s about me being a mother and raising my girls and tending to our space and property. But we lived as a family in a home previous to that, and while there are lots of happy memories associated with it, but I never gave those four walls a second thought once we left it.
Is the attachment associated with ownership? This house was chosen by me and had all the things I wanted. Our previous house was chosen by my ex-husband and built on his family’s farm and the builder convinced us to remove all aspects of the design I so loved but he deemed impractical, like the wrap-around porch and the fireplace. Therefore it wasn’t mine.
So then, now that I am renting am I doomed to never feel home again? This spring I’m trying again, and I’m determined to find a place I can make mine.
Wish me luck. I just want to go home.