Sunday, January 22, 2012


Finished this book and aside from the obvious ideas that were dealt with: how we often try to return home to avoid or deal with problems in our lives only to realize that many of our problems and issues stem from that home, so going back doesn't do much to offer relief; it also had me reflecting greatly on what home is.

The word home doesn't mean the same thing for everyone. I think this is often taken for granted. We imagine everyone has this place where they can return to, that encompasses their childhood, a place that we can inspect and see first hand how much the world has changed, a marker not only of the past but of the present and into the future as well.

But then there are people like me and my brother and his family. People who moved around a lot because of their parents' work. There are a myriad of other reasons why one might not have a place they call home but I suspect many of them lead to similar experiences when reflecting back upon the concept.

When I think about home I think of two things, well three really. These two things are a shrunk (which is a large piece of wood cabinetry built in Germany) and a nondescript plush lazy boy style recliner. The third thing is sort of an extension of these two, or the root of them really. My parents. Their house, though I've never lived in it, still feels something like home.

This lack of grounding in a place is a peculiar feeling. There's no returning to an old neighborhood and feeling the pull of nostalgia as I walk beneath the trees or down familiar streets. No beloved playground. No best friend's house. No high school to revisit. No movie theater where my first kiss took place. Visiting Idaho is like floating free across space until entering my parents' house. Once there things make sense, but looking out their front door, onto their front yard and at the fields across the street, invokes no more emotion or memory than looking at a picture of the Martian landscape.

As time passes the inside of their house changes. They get different furniture, buy different rugs. At this point even the dogs we had when I left after high school are no longer alive. But the shrunk and some version of the recliner always seems to stay around.

After leaving home I moved as much if not more than ever. I think I averaged a move once a year for the first six years after high school.

But now I've lived in one city for ten years and the same house for almost nine. Just a fraction of the time one might spend in a single home growing up, but still more than double anywhere else I've ever lived.

With Berkeley with us now I can't help but look around and think about what sort of place this would make for her as a home. Her youth will be nothing like mine (forgetting even about technology). Will she run these streets with the few other kids in the area? Will she love the beach? In my mind I see her as a young teen standing on the dunes looking out at the waves, taking in the vastness of the ocean, contemplating it for the first time, wind blowing her hair into her eyes. This image alone convinces me here would be a good home.

Robyn sort of hates our house. I can understand this. It has its issues. The electrical outlets, its general age, the impossibility of keeping it warm, it's only two rooms, the kitchen is small and a little gross, sometimes there are mice. I get it. But since I lack a childhood home of my own this one that I adopted when I was 25 feels special to me in ways that probably don't make sense to a lot of people.

One day, assuming we are here long enough for Berkeley to feel like it is home, she'll probably leave at the first opportunity. While San Francisco and California have the air of freedom and independence to me they'll be the exact opposite to her. A place to escape, to get away from in order to see the world. To be her own person. But equally as likely she'll come back one day and stand on the dunes, put a hand to her head to shade the sun from her eyes, a tangle of gray hair blowing around her head, and she'll marvel again at how big the ocean is and how lucky she is to call this place home.