Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Writing Prompt #17

This is one of a series of 60 writing prompts an English professor friend of mine gave her class. I set the timer for 10 minutes and simply wrote the first thing that came to me.

What is home for you?

Do I feel at home in a certain place or with certain people? Having moved fourteen times in the past thirteen years, I struggle with feeling settled, with feeling "at home". I remember as a child feeling a sense of homecoming, of peace as we pulled into our driveway, hearing the gravel crunch under the tires, feeling the swing right off the road and the slowing down and stopping of the car. In my inward eye, the feeling happened in the dark, a homecoming of a small child who is up past her bedtime and feels tired, who can look out the car window of the back seat and see the wide sky peppered with stars, a feeling of small aloneness in a very big world until finally the slowing down, that crunch of gravel. The knowledge that soon I would be in a soft bed that smelled like home, I would be falling asleep under a warm blanket.

As an adult I seldom have felt that sense of homecoming. It seems that I have to live in a place for at least two years to even begin to feel as though I truly belong there, as though it embraces me and accepts me into its haven.

To me, home is a feeling of place, of belonging in a geographical location, as if I have an inner GPS with a "home" setting. Over time the setting latches onto a pinpoint on the old, tired globe, a place that belongs just to me. Two years after living in a place, it finally accepts the normalcy of pulling into the driveway; the motions of the car and the feel of the stop at last become mine. The smell of the house as we enter the door finally welcomes me.

To move houses uproots me, transplanting my sense of belonging into a new location and disturbing all of my equilibrium down to my very core. I can pretend it doesn't exist, this feeling of disconnectedness, but it colors everything I do, a wash of insecurity until at last I have lived in a place for enough time that I can again call it home, put down roots and claim my own little patch of terra firma.

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