coming to you live from the world of oz

I’ve been thinking about the concept of home a lot. You know all the cliches. Home isn’t a place, but a feeling, a state of mind. I love the way the song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros characterizes home — “home is wherever I’m with you.”

It’s been strange to be home again…. because it doesn’t feel like home anymore. I feel like I’ve spent many years trying to find my home, my place, the spot that inspires me and just feels somehow right. I’d clicked my heels a thousand times but it took a long time to find a place that could provide that feeling.  Albany used to feel like home and then it suddenly stopped feeling that way and I left for Chicago, where I fell hard and fast and deliriously in love with that city.

But now I’m back to being home-less again, in some respects. I know the cliche says that home is where the heart is, but what do you call home when pieces of my heart are scattered across the country, like a trail of breadcrumbs made up of love for different people and places I’ve known? I’m back in Albany and I’m doing the things I used to do, going the places I used to frequent but somehow it just doesn’t feel the same anymore. This is a life I lived but the me that lived it has changed in ways I can’t quite wrap my head around just yet. My mother and stepfather sold the house they’d lived in for 14 years last summer, so the house I’m staying in is still so new to me. It isn’t home. It’s not at the end of the same old familiar country road I’d driven a thousand times over….. These days I find myself occasionally befuddled by the streets I used to drive, finding myself having to really concentrate to remember how to get from one place to another, reminding myself of street names and directions. I feel a lot like Dorothy these days – everything seems so familiar but yet it isn’t quite…right.

Today I started feeling what seemed sort of like grief, sadness for something I’ve lost, and I’m realizing that it’s because it feels like I’ve lost that part of my life and it cannot be regained, because those things can’t be kept. They don’t last forever and once we’ve lost them, there’s no turning back, just going ahead.

                     One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
And so now I’m gearing up for the next leg of my journey. This time it seems my life is taking me to the west coast, to the land of redwoods and the ocean and year-round produce. I’ve lost two cities and while I’ll mourn them, now I’m preparing to gain a new one, and I’m daunted but excited, desperately hoping that I’ll get to once again experience that crazy, punch-drunk, wildly, insanely, madly and passionately in love feeling that a new place can bring. Will Santa Cruz be my place? I’ll have to wait and see because wherever my place is, it doesn’t seem to be here anymore and that realization makes me profoundly sad in a way I hadn’t anticipated.
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One Response to coming to you live from the world of oz

  1. MsGarlic says:

    We had that “home is wherever I’m with you” embroidered into a sign for our wedding ceremony! Also we are going to northern california for our honeymoon next week! I have never been there but think I will love it.

    I am from Detroit, then lived in NYC for 5 years, now I have been in Albany for 2 years. My husband grew up in Western Canada, went to college in Montreal, grad school in Seattle then was in NYC and Albany the same amounts of time with me. It is hard! I always get pissed when things change in either of those places as in businesses added or lost – it is irrational but I always get mad. My parents also bought a new house the year before I left causes a very different feeling when I visit I am sure. Good Luck!!

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