Friday, January 6, 2012

About Home

Elizabeth Bowen wrote in Death of the Heart:

"After inside upheavals, it is important to fix on imperturbable things. Their imperturbableness, their air that nothing has happened renews our guarantee. Pictures would not be hung plumb over the centers of fireplaces or wallpapers pasted on with such precision that their seams make no break in the pattern if life were really not possible to adjudicate for. These things are what we mean when we speak of civilization: they remind us how exceedingly seldom the unseemly or unforeseeable rears its head. In this sense, the destruction of buildings and furniture is more palpably dreadful to the spirit than the destruction of human life."
Well, I’m not sure I would agree with the last two lines. I experienced a strong earthquake years ago in Venezuela and remember beseeching whatever powers might be listening: “Just leave me my children and my husband”. Looking back I’m inclined to think that was selfish. What about all the other precious children and husbands? But selfishness is not my topic today. Maybe another time. Now in the throes of moving from my dwelling of sixteen years, I am thinking about home. 
I have painted little houses since kindergarten. They are safe places. Drawing or painting them puts me in a safe place. This is not a conscious act. It’s like reaching for chocolate when chocolate is the right thing. Moving is like being unsafe until the new home is made. This home will be made when everything (or almost everything) is in place and the house loses its strangeness. Putting familiar things, those that have been with me for the longer haul, in their places will be good. Hanging my paintings, which is the last thing I will do, should bring home into the house. But the interim, which has started as I take this home apart, is life on quicksand. The feeling is one of un-ease.
I know people who take their houses with them wherever they go. They are like snails except that their homes are within themselves. They are good travelers, willing to be transported at the drop of a hat. I wonder if they grew up feeling safe and just assume that the force will be with them (to coin a phrase). I am not so trusting, and while I envy that serenity, I prefer to watch my back at all times when away from my own confines. But I have made homes before and will do it again now. I know how. Just wish I could get from here to there with no in-between.
From Robert Montgomery: Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
The image above is one of the Little Houses series, actually a detail from Neighborhood, ©2008

Below we have an ode written by my friend Mike Yanke in response to About Napping. Behold, I’m a muse!


Rectangles abound
This side of town.

They’re green and they’re blue
With varying hue.

Orange ones have dots
Reds have white spots.

Different as they may be
They’re all fun to go see.

Some with white borders
Others borderless in their orders.

Rectangles standing alone
Rectangles with an accompanying clone.

There’s multiples and more
There’s rectangles galore.

The creator of all these
Is so easy to please.

An afternoon bed
To rest her sweet head.

And what time of day
Does she want to go lay?

From one until three
It’s her life’s luxury.

She calls it her nap
To avoid the over-worked trap.

A nap ‘til she rises
She vehemently prizes.

There’s no need for it to be said
The shape of her bed.

It’s always rectangular
Not square, circular or triangular.

Rectangles abound
this side of town. 

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