Thursday, March 19, 2015

Finding Home: Other Voices

It's my pleasure to share the work of Seattle author, Kit Bakke. She offers much to ponder.

Dream Home 
Home, I think, is always in our past and never where we are. Being thus untethered in time and space, we are free to make it up. We shove the dark spots into the background, highlight the good parts, make home whatever we need it to be. We do this for our own reasons, but always to distinguish it from where we are right here and now.

In 1973 I was living in a cheap apartment off Alcatraz and Grove streets in Oakland CA. It was a warm summer. The Nixon Watergate hearings were on TV nonstop. It was a pleasure and a relief to see the man finally fall. My other preoccupation was that I was pregnant with my first child and was busy catching up on the women’s movement. I read a lot—Doris Lessing’s Martha Quest series, Anais Nin’s diaries, Virginia Woolf’s everything, Ms. Magazine.

In one of the Martha Quest books, Lessing describes the British settlers in Zimbabwe, or Rhodesia as it was in the days she lived there. She wrote that the colonial British housewives didn’t hang curtains in their kitchen windows, didn’t plant flowers by their front doors. They did nothing to indicate to themselves that this was their home. And yet they did stay, for years, for decades, for their whole lives—never admitting to themselves that this could be home, never investing in their community, learning about their African environment or allowing themselves to be comfortable there.

That image of refusing to make a home in the place where you are has not faded in the forty years since I read the book. To me, it points to a road not to take, a person not to be. It’s fine to put soft edges around a place and time in our pasts—we all need our memories to keep us warm from time to time—but isn’t it more interesting and entertaining to make your home wherever you are?  
 Kit Bakke’s most recent book is Dancing on the Edge. Although she lived a peripatetic life for many years, she’s pretty much returned to her Seattle birthplace.

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Working Girl said...

I resonate with that image of not planting flowers/not putting up curtains so as not to indicate you are "at home." This is how I felt about living in Phoenix! I know, not the same thing…

In any case, from a pretty early age and wherever I physically have found myself I have always strongly felt that "home" is inside you. So that wherever you are, you are at home. I don't want the feeling of home-ness to rely on location, which can so easily change or be taken away. Much better to carry it with you.

Arleen Williams said...

I like the idea of carrying it with you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Working Girl.