this is a project that has been burning a hole in my heart. we all sing our pure and shaky and earnest songs, to ourselves, our kids, our pasts. we sing because we need to hear our voices out loud, because it gets lonely sometimes, because it hurts, because the joy cannot fit in our bodies. mothers are always and never alone. i want to focus on the never part. i want to hear the voices together. i want to start a chorus.
– Amy Grace
when i was little, home was grammy and poppy, open windows, salt and sand and flowers sticky on my skin. it was the back seat of the car with uncle p, the wind and his jokes upon me, the happy prisoner. home was chocolate milk in the morning, my cat clover, bob dylan mimeographed lyrics on my window seat, everyone putting up with my moods and constant piano playing. home was being a part of a living mess of a miracle. being your mother is like drawing a parallel line to all of it. making our own miracles.
now, home is all the shades of grey that dance together in the rainbow of you two, who are all bended light, and memory on my skin. i always thought it was a place, but now it feels like a time in which i can always swim. we have come to rest in a beautiful wandering that can tread water. in place. in my place. we are a story suspended, where every second is everything, where we are love and bones and now. all the freedom i used to chase is here, where real life and inspiration are braided together like cords in my hands. taking care of you is my anchor. from there you are hooked into my skin; i study the piercing with wonder. it is the point of light from which all else is born, strong enough to reach the surface. heavy, but as true as i know. it is the beautiful paradox that always made my head hurt. because i was so close to understanding, but it had not yet devoured me. where you are, i am with you. i am home.
I am a hundred times grateful to have captured this photo. I didn’t think much of it at the time, didn’t edit it. Didn’t share it. It was just a moment I captured of my kids being exactly who they are. When I stumbled across it months later, it stopped me in my tracks. This photo has so much of what I want to remember about them…their quirkiness, their togetherness. From the always wanting a special drink, sitting on boxes and toes made useful. Taken in our messy garage in the heat of summer, my hope for them is that they remember it’s the simple things that are the best, that it doesn’t take so much to be happy–just to be home spending time with those we love, that’s what matters most.
Home Upon the Sea
We choose the story we want to tell
And the place we want to dwell.
Walls and doors can close us off
To a more honest form of haven.
To live outside in the open air
Is where my heart is home.
I see my family embrace this way
Of living life each day.
I feel the salt upon my skin and
jump in again for more.
The rhythm of life upon the sea
is music to my ears.
It was a roof over my head for college years. It’s where my mother still lives.
I laid in that waterbed dreaming at night of what my future would be. I toiled through college, quickly, working hard to rise up. Go far. Be something.
When I see my second daughter standing in the room that was once my bedroom, she looks like a small ghost to me. Holding the dusty, spiderweb-caked silk flower my mother has just given her as a gift. I want to cry. I feel like I have never left, but have never lived here.
Who is she? This child in this bedroom where I was once a dreamer.
My husband and I’s decision to move home two years ago means my son will grow up with 100’s of acres of fields and woods to explore, family land I roamed on as a child. He’s at his happiest when he’s out of doors, wandering through the trees, playing in the crick, digging in the dirt. It couldn’t make us happier.
i have a year left. its a subtle anxiety hanging in the background of everything we do. one year. he’s a junior. then he will be a senior and then he will be gone. its happening gradually. he has a truck now, so I don’t see him as much as when I had to drive him everywhere. it makes me treasure the times when we do talk. when he asks my advice on an art project or needs money for more skate shoes. like always, like ive known the whole time, its the quantity of time not the quality of time. holidays and spring breaks at home will not match up for the everyday breakfasts and time i have with him now. its the simple things i’ll miss. his presence in my house.. dirty laundry and all. making him dinner. nagging him to clean his room. watching a simple tv show. hearing about his day.
mixed with this anxiety is my pride in who he is becoming. he is shrugging off my ideas and plans and fitting himself into what he knows will work for him. his passions. his ideas. skateboarding and art. skateboarding and art. and my curiosity.. what will he choose to do? will he actually manage to fill out those college applications? will he choose art school? who will he be? and how will i continue to be me without him in my house? motherhood just gets harder and more rewarding all the time. i can see now that it will never ever end.
Unfold us like a river, winding and long. For you and I are vast. We stretch like sky. Carved on the underside of your skin, we are something that never erases, no matter where your feet will wander. We are a lark’s song floating over thunder, and the sharp smell of sun in the rain. We are a tangle about your legs, living and green, tethering you deeply when the wind blows. Your feet bounding up our old, wooden stairs – we are that very sound – like an echo that never stops ringing. Heavy with love. Light as air. Home.
Home is where you are, your beds unmade, your socks turned inside out, your chocolate milk leaving a dark stain on the table. Home is hearing you through the window, chatting with your friends on the way back from the bus, door bursting open and you yelling ‘MUMMY! ARE YOU THERE!’. Home is the darkened room, a phone for a light, kissing your cheeks and smelling your hair one last time before I go to sleep. Home is watching you but pretending not to watch you play with your castle and princesses and animals, a whole imaginary world that must so beautiful in your mind. Home is hearing you dance upstairs and make up words to songs while the piano plays. Home is cuddling next to you on the sofa, your fingers touching my ears and you saying ‘Mom, watch this, watch this’. Home is giving you five minutes of my complete attention, not interrupting and you starting every question, every sentence with ‘Mummy..’
Home is a place not rooted by an address or dot on a map. Home is where you are and where you are is home.
I saw a sign recently that said, “please excuse the mess…we live here.”
Hell yes we do. And it is a total mess. It is a mess full of memories that make up a good childhood. It is a place where my children can create something and then we hang it up for the world to see on pretty much any wall in the house.
We have the furniture you can wipe clean and the front yard where many come to play.
The stuff I own is a collection from grandmas and garage sales. But my favorite stuff in the special box are the lost teeth, handmade cards and old photos. The stuff we made. The beautiful mess.
I’ve always considered myself a “homebody”. I love being in the place that makes me feel the most comfortable – where I can walk around barefoot, know where everything belongs, see my favorite things (all of which have deep meaning to me), dream of what I’d like to do differently, and most importantly where my favorite most beloved people are with me feeling their most comfortable too. I guess to me Home = Family, and that is the most important thing in the world.
We moved a lot when I was a girl, and most of the places we lived were less than ideal. One thing that I remember though is how my mom was able to transform little spaces of our houses or apartments into garden masterpieces. I don’t think I had realized how much work she put into it until I was at least 10 years old. The first summer I paid attention to her amazing cultivating abilities, I started to ask questions. What plants were which, and did she plant them in certain areas for a reason? Over time I gained quite a bit of gardener knowledge without realizing it, and an affinity for creating outdoor beauty just as my mom had… taking a barren plot of earth and working it until it becomes fertile and blooming. Showing evidence of dedication and love, this is one way I enjoy turning a house into my home. It creates joy–not only in the aesthetic, but also in my inner self. It is my daughter that now joins me outside, helping to pull weeds and plant new flowers. She asks questions and giggles as dirt flies through the air. And after she’s had her fun, she plops herself in the grass on a blanket to read or to draw commenting on the loveliness of it all. One day, I hope she looks back on this time with such happy sentiments and that this love of cultivating beauty is passed on yet again.
What is home to a family of nomads like us? A family where the 4 of us were born in 4 different countries, and only 1 of us lives in the country of their birth… we have 2 nationalities between us, but as a family have never lived in either of those countries… what is home? Is it where our parents are? Is it what our passport says? Is it where we were born? Is it where we live? Is home four walls, or is it family, or is it wherever we happen to be? It is all, and none of those things… it’s the arms we lay in, the hearts we are held in, the minds that think of us near and far, it’s the places we rest our heads, close our eyes, dream our dreams, it’s the mess we make and the chaos we create, the songs sung, and the adventures travelled; it’s where our lives and loves and limbs are entangled together – wherever that happens to be – home is us.