Wednesday, March 23, 2011

If The Right One Came Along

I've been neglecting this lovely "home", and I'm oh so sorry.  Ya'll are beautiful and worth my time... I'll be better, I promise!

So many wonderful contributions are coming in, and I thank you! Im sorting through them now and can't wait to include some of them in this lovely project that you've all so graciously taken up.

So anyway:

This song has been playing on repeat for me today:

It inexplicably took me back to a home that I had forgotten.  When I was in High School, in my senior year, I used to cut class... a lot.  My best friend and I would sneak out and jump in to her runaway car.  We'd spend a bit of time perusing a book store for new poetry to inspire us, or new music to fuel our dreams.  Then we'd head to The Spot.   The Spot was magic.  Each time we tried to go there we got lost, as if it continually changed geography, protecting itself from being overexposed.    It was an alcove, vine-covered and romantic. Magical and inspiring in its simplicity.  We would go there to feel a sense of something greater... a sense that there was a world outside our knowledge and understanding.  A world that had once been inhabited by Davinci, Einstein, Van Gogh, Dylan, ... and Kerouac.    

It was nothing really.  A stony outlook entrenched in vines.  But it was ours.  When we were lucky, the daffodils would be blooming in the field nearby and then we were truly happy.

Something about this song reminded me of those times:  times when I would go to that stony outlook, skipping spanish class, because I felt that daydreaming about my future beloved was far more worth it.

I remember how tender my heart felt at that time.  Precious little secret that it was, so ready to be snatched up, yet patiently waiting in the twisting vines of that secret spot.

This song takes me back to that home:  a home that can never be the same, because me and my heart have changed.  It was a home at one time, though, and so it will forever be.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

“Happiness Does Not Come From Having Much, but From Being Attached to Little.”

We've been told Home is where the Heart is.  I believe your heart will be where you give of yourself.  

On that note, a beautiful contribution from reader Ashley Pacanowski:

As someone who has yet to fall in love, have children, and build my own family, very much of my sense of home has been shaped by my career. I spend more time in my classroom than my actual home. You would think that is a negative statement, but it's something I cherish. You see, my physical location has changed so quickly that my classroom has become my home. It's the one place I can unpack my most treasured thoughts, ideas, and inspirations. It's a world I can create on my own and the only limitation is my imagination. No matter where the economy and twists of fate take me, I can pull up in a new town and set up shop. I am connected to some of the most emotionally gripping moments I've ever experienced.
My classroom is more than a collection of supplies and mementos. Each piece reminds me of a moment where I was changed forever. The mailbox that sits on my desk reminds me of the first gift I ever received from a student. I opened the mailbox one day to find six pennies, an apple, and a note that simply said "I love you." It came from a student who was homeless at the time, and it was quite literally all she had to give. The trees and vines that decorate my room remind me of the time a student said that he felt like he was across the world. This was a young boy who had never seen the landmark river two miles from his home because he had never traveled past his block. Every time I hear the bell ring and a student scoots in late I think of the 7 year old student who woke up one day to an empty home. He wanted to go to school so badly he walked four city blocks, with no shoes, all by himself...just so he wouldn't have to miss school. And each time I give a hug I think of the student who was so emotionally damaged that he wouldn't allow anyone to touch him. The last day of school he looked up at me with tears in his eyes, threw his arms around me, and said "I'm really going to miss you."
My classroom is my home because it reminds me of the gifts I have been given that I take advantage of. My classroom is my home because it is a safe haven for students and teachers alike to sing, dance, joke, and play without fear of judgment. My classroom is my home because I know that every day I can impact the lives of so many children who may not feel safe in their own home.
When I think of the word home I think of  feeling secure, grounded, and happy. Home is being surrounded by loved ones and memories that shape who you are.
Though I may not find a town that is my home, I will always have a home. For as long as I am blessed to have a job in teaching, my heart has a place to call home.

"Let Everything Happen to You..."

"...Beauty and terror.  Just keep going.  Nothing is final." -Rainer Maria Rilke

Today I was walking around my neighborhood, the weather slightly warmer and giving a hope that Spring might be upon us.  A mist in the air, and I was immediately taken back to so many Spring seasons of the multitude of lives I feel I've lived.

I time-traveled back to a day about a year ago, walking through the park near my Brooklyn apartment, a slight drizzle in the air that I ignored because I needed to walk.  I was scared and confused and somewhat lonely at that time, but I can remember how walking through that park gave me a bit of peace, a little slice of hope.

Flashing back even farther I could see the scape of my college campus, as seen through the window of a coffee shop that gave me so much sanctuary over four years.  I saw every season of every year from the same seat in that humble coffee shop.  And I can remember one particular day where winter was beginning to turn to spring, and my time on the campus seemed to be hurtling toward a close faster than I cared to accept.

A few years before and I was in a car with my best friend in High School, driving through back roads and scouring for patches of newly blooming daffodils, our favorite flower to snatch and run with... petty thievery that brought us joy and comfort.  I was probably upset about a boy, and she as well.  We were scared of what was coming for us, what we were going to become... and most of all- would we stay friends as life moved us forward?

All of these moment wrapped up in the sense memory of a changing season and a hint of rain.  Hours later, as I sat on the kitchen floor of the house filled with my friends and partners in crime, laughing comfortably and without pretense, I realized that it all turns out ok.  Every memory is now a glowing piece of me, devoid of any worry because the things I worried about always turned out just fine.  A new sense of Home dropped into me... a greater sense of faith in life's unwavering intent to take you where you are meant to be, and bring you to the things you truly deserve.

To live within the entire timeline of your entire life... maybe that is the utmost of noble pursuits.  That within each moment I possess my present, my past, and my future too.  To be at home within the entire span of my life.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Every Day is a Journey. And the Journey Itself is Home"

Truly interesting and inspiring contribution from a reader...

Tatiana, these are your words:

First of all, I need to say that I'm French and when I was learning English at school, they didn't really give us a translation for that word. I clearly remember tests where we had to choose between home and house, when to use one or the other. And, at the time, I didn't know the real definition of those words and their translation. I had a technique though, house was "the building" and home was more like "the family."

It did help a lot for the tests. Now, I know that there is sort of an equivalence in French, it's the word 'foyer'. In English, they translate it by 'focus', but in French it has a larger meaning. It means fireplace and family too, two words I think are important to associate with home.
I think everyone has their own definition of home, but for me, family and fireplace can define it pretty well. Family, in the large meaning of the word. Family as in the people who are important to you, not necessarily related. And fireplace because, well it's a centre. It's a source of warmth, of comfort. And being at home is that too, it's feeling good. It's feeling safe.

I don't know how much relevant this is, but there is another specific you need to know about myself, I'm a gypsy. Not the traveler type, but the French/Spanish type - the ones who 'created' flamenco. This makes me realize that you can't talk of what is home to you if you don't explain who you are or what defines you.  As a gypsy I've observed something, very few of my people own houses; they rent. I've discussed of that with my grandparents who told me that each family living in single houses was really new, until recently they lived all together. They had a "great house" where all could come to live when needed, when wanted. Now that I think about it, they probably would have used the word home if they had known an equivalent.

That "great house" was where grandparents, parents, children etc... lived most of the time. They sometimes left for work (or to create a new family) but they had this place that they all owned. It was somewhere to come back.

It was an attraction point. And maybe it's because of that that they never bought a house, they needn't attaches somewhere else. They had their family.

I realize that here I'm talking of a time that has now ended and of a very specific situation, but I think it can sum up what home can mean. It's a place you can come back, a place where you'll never be alone. A home is somehow reassuring. It's a circle you are a part of, it's a protection in a way. It's being part of something.

And I come back to say the same, it's feeling safe.

I particularly love this idea of a "Great House" a "point of attraction". As someone who clings deeply to homes and families whilst also desperately seeking adventure and exploration, it is a challenging concept to find balance in the two. For every person I welcome into my world, I risk that heartache of having to some day say goodbye. I like the idea that there is a place where no matter how far you travel, you can return to the gathering place, to the love that formed you. And perhaps this creates the safety that we speak of... the knowledge that there is always a place waiting for your return when you need it most.

You can travel far and freely when you know you have somewhere or someone that would welcome your return.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Like a Rolling Stone

This is where I was a year ago...


and this is where I am now.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

"Your House Shall Be Not an Anchor, But a Mast"

When I graduated from High School my father slipped me a thin, aged-looking book and said "read this... I think you'll like it".  Naturally and naively, I threw it in amongst the rest of my books and didn't look back or even pause to consider cracking it open.

Years later, in the midst of moving into my first college apartment, I found the book and began to read it- and I haven't parted with it since.

"The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran has become a little piece of my heart and soul.  Looking at it now it is ripped and torn from being tumbled around in too many oversized purses, and it's pages are dog-eared and coffee-stained-  my best friend for so many afternoons spent in coffee shops learning how to be alone without being lonely.

My favorite thing to do is to give a copy to the people in my life.  It's more than just a gesture of sharing something I love, it is also an invitation of sorts... a welcoming into a deeper part of knowing me and what sparks me at my core.

Looking at it now, I see how it holds a million lives in it's pages.  Memories of a summer evening in a lake house in Illinois, cuddled up in a bed with old friends and reading aloud the words that I loved so much.  Thinking of that night reminds me of the days spent leaping in and out of the lake, no makeup, sun-kissed and free.  Evenings spent around a fire with a little music and a lot of laughter.

I gave a copy once to a boy I liked and told him to put it away somewhere and forget about it... let himself find it by mistake one day far from then.  To let the serendipity of it fully breathe.

I've given copies to people who are still very much a part of my life, and to many who are very much gone from my life.  And I think there is something special in knowing that people and places that are no longer with me, are linked to me still.

Home is a human condition.  Its the vastness of your entire experience wrapped up in a sack, tied to a stick, thrown over your shoulder.  Lately my greatest sense of "home" has been the contrast of all the different places I've been and people I've known.  It's sitting at a table with a dozen of my closest friends, knowing that a mere year ago I was far from being as happy as I am now.  Its seeing that no matter how far- both physically and emotionally- I journey, somehow life always brings me back to where I am meant to be.

It makes me think a lot about roots, and planting, and what that truly means.  In New York, I couldn't even bring myself to replace my air mattress with a real bed... because somewhere inside myself I must have known that I wouldn't stay long.  But I planted there, in ways more profound than furniture.  I rooted to people, because the people were all I had.  And when the time came to leave I was sent away with all of the love and encouragement of those people, knowing that I would carry them with me forever... they were rooted deeply in me.

I wander from home to home, finding new forms of family wherever I go.  I wander not aimlessly, but with the challenge of staying free and yet committed.  Committed to the truth of what I've come from, and free to reach the fullness that is yet to be realized in my experience.

"How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root, and in that freedom bold." = William Wordsworth

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"Not All Who Wander Are Lost"

When I was 20 years old I walked into a tattoo parlor and had a north star branded onto my left wrist, on a whim.  I can now recall it as an act of rebellion, but also an act of searching.  I was searching for an identity to call my own, I was searching for a thrill, and I was searching for a feeling.

That little star has now become a manifesto of sorts, a question that has continually highlighted my life; where is home?

Over the years that question altered slightly- What is home?

Under the auspices of that question, I present to you "The Home Project".  A chronicle of my ongoing search for the deeper meanings of "home", and the journey I am taking to get there.

So tell me, what does 'home' mean for you?

"There is nothing half so pleasant as coming home again"
-Margaret Elizabeth Sangster