17 May 2010

Home. Sick.

Reading  Dominique Brown's review in the Times of Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House, by Meghan Daum, I had no choice but to stew on (about? in?) the ridiculous bouts of homesickness I've experienced of late. Isn't it a strange feeling, seeing or hearing or even smelling some thing, seemingly innocuous, and having it set off an almost physical wave of longing? We can all recognize the feeling as homesickness, ineffable though it may be. Not a big surprise that the phenomenon has been a regular feature of my life the last few months. The surprise has been just what I've been homesick about and for (I couldn't do that without a preposition at the end, so I used two). The simple act of displacement, of a "new life" (whatever the hell that means) seems to have triggered all sorts of notions of domestic life, of memories both fond and not, that recall the umpteen homes of my life.

The obvious moments are for the home just past. Walking by the condo this morning to pick up my car (yes, we have joint custody of Ingrid, for now), I saw my porch, the table and chairs at which I have spent so many hours, chatting with neighbors and friends who have dropped by, the (too many) planters now empty, waiting for me, I guess. I was so unprepared for the physical sensation of that flood of memories I found myself sucking air to continue on to the parking garage.

Even more random: listening to a recording of the great Norwegian-Italian soprano Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz singing Mozart unaccountably led me back to the beautiful backyard gardens a previous (sigh) ex and I had worked so hard to create. A dozen years later, I wanted to be sitting on the back stoop, admiring the clematis laden with giant purple blooms trained along the fence.

Thinking about a trip this summer, to the scenes of my childhood in Montana, has me longing to hike, climbing through the pines to emerge on some rocky shelf, breathing in that crisp, thin air that can only mean one thing: I am home.

There is no going back; I know that. Home is what we make it now, and this temporary, unsettled state of mine will pass; I will be ensconced somewhere I am happy to call home. Books and friends and my piano and pots of flowers and good food and love will surround me. But I hope that I never lose those moments where I come face to memory with homes past, memories that have piled one on top of another, like a haphazard sheaf of papers stuck in too small a drawer. A teak drawer, in a mid-century Danish hutch, in a dining room looking out on the herb garden, with the dog wagging his tail to come in, and a pot of soup bubbling on the stove. Sorry to cut this short, but the doorbell just rang; my guests have arrived.

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