There are five massive screen doors in the open living area of what has been our off-and-on home here in Maine. On a clear morning, the warm glow from the maple trees on the lakefront and the ethereal, bright rays of dawn pour into this glass room in yellow and green shards, beginning at the earliest hour and somehow continuing to channel prisms of light deep into the evening. Even when I am right here, asleep on the very couch I sit perched upon now, I dream of this room.
In reality, this cabin is made up of about one third glass, with the remainder composed of v-match, vertical pine panels with a slightly tinted polyurethane finish. It is bright and open and is life-giving in the way of an enormous, tight hug. On my first night back here in early June, what must have been hundreds of insect wings beat frantically against the dark expanse of wire window screen and the resulting sound was that of a pounding torrent of rain, rather than the quiet presence of the still, cool evening breeze that moved into and through the room where I sat.
I dare say it is the single most comforting thing on earth. It is as soothing as a lullaby, as essential to our souls as oxygen to the lungs, and as impossible to pin down as an easterly wind.
I’m realizing more and more that home isn’t a specific place, a particular building, or even an individual set of circumstances. Home is like a rhythm that only your soul will recognize, like a melody that you hear with your ears, and only upon its hearing can you identify it as the song which has always existed somewhere inside of you. From the very first note, you feel your footsteps fall into place with the beat, as if the music was born at the very same instant that you were.
This past Saturday night, after putting Milo to bed, I found myself, as usual, doing a late night exercise circuit: walk; squat; pick up a wooden car; repeat. When I had finished, I stood in our open living room, did a small, but very stylish wiggle, and declared myself the LUCKIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD. You see, on this particular day, one of my very favorite friends, Jenn, entered into her new big wedded adventure, and it all took place in my seasonal backyard. It was a day full of frenzy and running from place to place like a sugar-pumped six-year-old in a room full of puppies, and yet, also a day of incredible beauty and peace and – you guessed it, my favorite buzzword – community. It was community at its best: purposeful and hilarious and exceedingly life-giving. Saturday was also, as Craig said multiple times throughout the weekend, a terribly frighteningly day to be a spore-producing plant, but since we only eat ferns in the spring, and I only occasionally make my bed in the moss, it was nothing other than an enchanting day sandwiched between two very magical ones, filled with greenery from the forest, and I cannot imagine anything on this natural earth more perfect than that.
Due to our relational overlap with dear Jenn and her husband, Jacob, it was also an opportunity to welcome a number of friends back to camp. I think of this group of people as something like our own personal traveling circus, like the band getting back together. Every individual falls into place amongst the rest, and we each become a unique part of what feels to be one single working body.
In this community of people, I hear my melody. They sing my song. They beat out my rhythm, and my feet follow suit. But they aren’t the only ones. This isn’t the only place. The expression of home has a wild, wandering voice.
During my first trip to the red rocks of the dry southwest, I heard it. Hidden amidst the mossy pines nearest the southern shore of Heald Pond, I sense it. In the tiny embrace of my son, I recognize it. In the gaze of my fellow adventurer, my husband, I am enraptured by it.
As much as this particular room, with its bright warmth and its air thick with joy and memory, would beckon me to label it the ultimate definition of home, I cannot. I am afraid that if I give in to the notion that home is one certain atmosphere or one specific structure, I will lose something precious. I will have surrendered myself to the unnecessary reality of loss, to the weight of grief at a house sold or an empty nest, or as I know it, a little cabin in the woods seen from the rear-view mirror. I will attempt to turn my ear, rather, to listen at each fork in the road, because the sound may come drifting as a working collection of feelings and faces experienced in blueberry pancakes, or mist on the river, or the giddy chortle and short-bitten fingernails of my sister. I will listen for it in the daunting truth that for each of us, our best and most dear friendship may still be yet to come. I will seek to embrace its elusiveness, it’s mystery and it’s unpredictable nature.
Our move-back date occurs next week, and I know that I won’t be ready for it until it’s happened. Or rather, until I’m back in New Hampshire, and have gotten a large enough quantity of hugs to remind me that it is a place that is also good, that it is also mine, and that it is also home.
The expression of home is as impossible to pin down as an easterly wind.
This room is not the only room.
My sound of Home:
Artist: Sleeping At Last
Album: Atlas: Space II – EP
Album: Atlas: Space II – EP