I need to write more. No, seriously. Every day I wake up, go to work, and get paid to teach students to write. Then I think about the last time I wrote something worth reading, and I feel like a fraud. So, New Year’s resolution # 1: write more. I’m getting ahead for next year, or jumping on this year’s bandwagon before it crashes into December. It all depends on how you look at it; perspective is everything.
There have been words scratching at the edges of my brain for weeks, maybe months. They were being polite about the scratching, like the squirrel I was once convinced got into the crawl space in my apartment—occasionally scrabbling for attention before dejectedly settling down again. (I named the phantom squirrel Roxter…because you asked). This week, at a word from Lorna over at Gin and Lemonade in the weekly writing prompt about home, the words have clawed themselves out. They’re a little ragged, a little rough around the edges from the fight, but they’re words. So, home.
I love the shape of the spoken word “home”—that round, open, hollowed-out vowel that takes shape and holds meaning when we fill it with objects and people and memories that leave impressions of living like footprints in the sand. the word carries different connotations for each of us. Sometimes, as a concrete language exercise, I ask my students to define the word home in terms of specific, sensory examples of sights, sounds, smells, textures, or tastes they associate with the word because for me, home is a celebration of the senses.
Home is the first sip of freshly brewed coffee in the morning and cold tile against bare feet. Home is my dog sleeping in a patch of sunlight by the window and the clink of wind-chimes on my patio that suggests the laughter of dancing fairies. Home is my favorite blanket fresh from the dryer and the spot on the couch that permanently bears the imprint of my body no matter how many times I rotate the cushions—the single point, to borrow a line from “The Big Bang theory”’s Sheldon Cooper, around which my entire universe revolves. Being blind and living in a sighted world means navigating unfamiliar spaces on a daily basis, but home is the place where I don’t need to count my steps down the hall, where I can put out my hand and always find what I’m searching for.
Last week, as I sat working in my office on campus, the slam of the hall door jolted me from my concentration, and I found myself thinking, “that’s the sound of home.” Every day, colleagues and students walk through that door—people who value my expertise, celebrate my successes, share my frustrations, and laugh at my jokes (even the bad ones; especially the bad ones). On the wall beside my desk hangs a quotation from Fred Rogers: “Love is at the root of all learning,” and love is the foundation of home, whether that love comes from family, friends, pets, colleagues, or from within oneself. I am, in fact, writing this in my office, the place where my heart beats and where I know I belong because here I have a purpose, a reason to wake up and greet each day with hope. When I’m here, I matter. I might offer a colleague advice about a problem or hand a student the key to unlocking her future in the form of the final touch to the application essay that will get her into medical school. When others love us, they create spaces for us in their lives. When I feel loved, I know I have a place to call home. Home is more than a physical space or the coordinates on a map; home is the place where I know who I am.