Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Looking for Home

"We are here because we are not all there." - from a bumper sticker in Port Townsend

As someone who has always suffered with the disease of perpetual longing, (i.e. the desire to be anywhere other than where I am at any particular moment), I have been pondering exactly what it means to be "at home". Presently we are temporarily renting a furnished 2 bedroom house from an English grandmother, complete with doilies and ceramic bunnies, framed prints of watercolor landscapes overlayed in italic with the Serenity prayer, silk roses in dimestore vases, etc. However, with the heater blaring and a cup of hot tea and the luck of some unknown neighbor with wi fi, I can look out at the dripping grey sky and feel quite cozy. Perhaps home actually occurs in moments rather than places, and has nothing to do with any external environment, though one can only hole up for so long before needing to venture out into the world.
Here there is no use waiting for the rain to stop or the sky to clear or the temperature to rise, you must simply go. And for god sakes, don't carry an umbrella or you will be immediately labeled as a Californian, which, as you can imagine, carries all sorts of unpleasant implications.
So yesterday we put on our long underwear and coats and hats and scarves and gloves and took a long walk along the beach here at Scatchett Head. As a Californian, or ex Californian, I find that I must first re establish an entirely new definition for the word "beach". Here, as I clump along the rocky shores of the Puget sound in my rain boots among broken clam shells and driftwood and look out at the rainstreaked sky, I dip my finger into the icy water and the longing begins. I start to think about how this very same water is attached by molecules to the waters of the Pacific ocean, from Washington and south to Mexico, where other transcient friends I know are possibly wandering the beach at this same moment wearing far fewer layers than we are, possibly even swimming. Suddenly I can taste it. The sun, the warmth, the fun.
It's too much to bear, and so I turn away from the sea and towards the forest, where the mesmerizing vision of hundreds of bare trees are quivering, their maroon and lavender and pale yellow branches intertwined like chaotic woven lace, shimmering there like strange otherworldly ghosts. I watch a cloud of my own breath drift towards them and ask, Why am I here? I look down at my feet, where an enormous white moonshell lies among the driftwood, bigger than my fist. It's spiraling chamber opening up to sky like a promise. I don't know why we struggle against the truth that is in our hearts. Of course I know where home is. I always have. You carry it with you, wherever you go.


Dotty Stripes said...

How lovely!

Sigrid Jardin said...

Daniella showed me your blog site. Your writing takes my breath away, Susan! You make the island come alive in a whole new dimension. Beautiful!
See you soon.....

holga_t said...

If 'home' is defined by temperature, then Santa Cruz is a kindred spot. In the 20's last night, electicity off (for hours, not days) the day before, rain departed and rain pending. As a former Seattle/Everett/Aberdeen resident I say hang tough, the place WILL lighten your heart.
And remember, 'home' includes the tendrils to all the people you know and whose lives touch yours; on the island and everywhere else.

Steve said...

I do enjoy your writing! Very moody and if you're in the right (wrong) mind it will comfort you to know that your depressions are felt by others during the long Washington winter.

Maybe this is why we feel such a great anticipation and exhiliration when those first warm spring rays fall upon us. We are rewarded with the odd 3 day April "heat wave" for lasting through the gray months. We know then that the long summer days are just ahead and we have hope!