The title of this is a nod to Georgia Heard‘s book, Writing Toward Home. It is one of my favorite books about writing. This was originally drafted, by hand, in a leather-bound journal from Italy that was a gift from my husband. The journal has now been filled.
I’d rather write longhand in a book than type on a computer. It feels more intimate, more friendly. There is a coldness to the screen that I find unsettling. Just think of all the authors who did wonders with quill and parchment, paper and pen, ink pot and blotter. Writing by hand slows me down, makes writing more sensory. I hear the sound of my pen scrabbling away and feel the creamy smooth paper on the back of my fist. The quietness adds up to so much more tranquillity than tap tap tap, SAVE, tap tap tap, SAVE, tap tap tap.
Perhaps it returns me to that oldest of questions for me – why write? More and more, I write to try to unearth and understand just what is happening in my many worlds. The blank page becomes a friend – non-judgemental, infinitely patient, never in a hurry, never yawning with boredom as I circle around the same old questions, trying to get just the right angle, trying to live them until the day I’ve lived into the answer.
And maybe I write because the book, the writing, becomes home. During the times I criss-cross the page, lost in the freedom of drifting thoughts and unlikely connections, I am heading towards home, I am creating home, I am home.
What is it to be achingly homesick and then realize that you don’t even know where or what home is anymore? Is home family? A state of mind? Mountains – the Rockies, the Jemez, the Sandias? Or is it here, in England, playing with my kids in the park on delicious spring days? Am I home when I disappear inside a piece of music and forget the awkward and sometimes off-key or under expressive me and instead just dissolve into the fabric of the music? Is it the comforting anonymity of being alone with a journal in a busy, buzzy coffeeshop where I can be invisible to all my roles? Is it the taste of air peppered with dust and ozone just before a summer flash flood? Is it the sight of heavy grey thunderclouds resting uneasily on the Sangre de Cristos?
I search for home because when I am home, I know who I am and what I can do. I revel in wondering and wandering. There is space for curiosity without defensiveness, risk-taking without retribution. Home is where I feel neither hunted nor in constant pursuit. I don’t jump through hoops, but I might jump from cliffs into deep pools of mountain waters.
Home is long vistas, miles and miles of possibility, the expanse of the blank page like the American West. I carry it in an unlined journal in my bag.
What do you call home? Where do you find it? How do you get there?
Tomorrow, the kids and I head to Italy to meet my husband and later my mom. Among the many things we have planned, I’ll be looking for another journal to fill. I won’t be posting next Friday – instead, I’ll put a message in a bottle and sail it from the port of Venice. Check your beaches.