Thursday, September 20, 2007

Home Is...

Something strange is happening.

We returned last Sunday from an 11-day driving tour of New England, and as we pulled off the parkway into our neighborhood, I had a feeling that was both distinct and shocking: It's good to be home. I caught myself before saying it out loud to Ed. Home? Yes, this is where we live, but home? But the autumn sun was shining on the water, and the tree leaves were rustling in the breeze. Neighbors were out for afternoon walks, and the entire surroundings were so familiar that they offered a comforting welcome, a welcome home. I came out of this surprising thought and told it to Ed. I never thought I'd say it about New York, but I guess if you live anywhere long enough it can become home.

I thought about this some more this afternoon as I drove around a curve on the Belt Parkway and the majestic Verrazano Bridge loomed above me. I love seeing that bridge, I feel an ownership in it. In fact, this week as I've returned to regular daily life, I feel ownership of the whole neighborhood, of my place in it, earned through endurance.

I thought of the places I've lived - Fairfax, Provo, Boston, Toronto, Boulder and now New York. And sure enough, if I lived there long enough, it had become home, and often hard to leave. We've been in New York over two years, with one more to go. And while my feelings toward the city in general have been no secret on this blog or in any conversation, I'm softening to the idea that it's a matter of perspective, of point of reference. Yes, life here is an infuriating hassle, but only if you compare it to other places. I've spent much of my time here comparing it to places I came from or places I want to go next. That makes it a terrible place to live. But when I just let it be New York, it's so special and unique that I feel special just being part of it (not special enough to stay longer, but still.)

These thoughts reminded me of a poem I'd heard, a section of Essay on Man by Alexander Pope:
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
Embrace - that word connotes tenderness, affection, possibly romance and maybe even dependence. Amazingly, we may still see the day when I join the masses and proclaim:


Therese said...

one more year in NY? where to next?

Marie W said...

You and Katy C are on the same, poetic wavelength this week - though her reference was to Swedes singing instead of NYC. :0) I'm reading a book right now that makes me think of you often b/c it is about two women (sisters, actually) in NYC and what their experience is there. I picked it up b/c I joined a Busy Mom's Book Chat at our library, and this is the book for the month. We'll be joining together with our kids in two weeks time to discuss the book, and I imagine that I'll bring up you, your blog, and my sister-in-law's stories when we meet.

Mia said...

Home is definitely a place in the heart as well as a place on the map. On ocassion I will comment that something makes me homesick and Forrest will ask which home? There are a few places that will always be homw to me.

Maren said...

Yeah, I totally know where you're at. "Home/ Hard to know what it is/ If you never had one/ Home/ I can't say where it is/ But I know I'm going/ Home" (U2)

When some friends of ours bought their first house back in 2003, I made them a 2 CD set I called "New Domicile". It was interesting to gather songs about the idea of "home" and what it is or means. It's an idea I've thought a lot about because there were several places I've lived that never felt like home. Place of residence? Sure. Home? Nope. And it didn't always correlate to the amount of time spent there, either. And, as you say, sometimes you have to leave it and come back to discover that that's what it is, but having a "home" can make all the difference in the world.

kat said...

i'm jazzed you guys had a good trip. and more jazzed that nyc has become more like home and less like jail. interesting phenomenon - doo doo, de doo doo. :)

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