The Other Side

I’ve been to the edge of the world before. I know it seems like every other post I talk about some weird island or boat I’ve been to. Yeah, we get it, Ella, you like the ocean and lighthouses and schooners but what’s the point? What’s the point besides their aesthetic beauty or shiny galore. But when I’ve reached the end of the sidewalk like I did in the words of my childhood, when we haul anchor or my ferry arrives, when the sun has set over the horizon and the infinite amount of other suns bask over the universe for all of eternity; when I run and run and reach a place that even the atlas and maps on my desk wouldn’t recognize; that’s when I know I’m at the edge. 

At the Other Side, as I tell myself, sits a house with huge windows. It’s always dusk and the weather is always mellow. Something good simmers on the stove and a Chet Baker record spins. Time and calendars and watches on our wrists take no priority over the movement of the sun and the moon with horizons that feel just out of arms’ reach. I guess you could say, on the Other Side there is no time. Creeks stream and sparrows sing and when we feel hungry we sit down for dinner. In Peru, I sat in the depths of the Sacred Valley (colonized by my own act of tourism, although I did not know it yet). I saw the Other Side when the stars above me were different than the suns that usually watch me in the darkness of night. On the top bunk of the creaky old schooner I meditated on for weeks sits an inlet; Tarpaulin Cove where you can almost see a waterfall of the earth’s curve right in front of you. At Swan’s Island, there’s an old quarry surrounded by an ungated community of living that falls onto deep cold waters. Ah yes, she’s back at it again. Bragging about these natural wonders she’s been to and seen. But these places mean not a destination or travel bucket list item. These places are the Other Side. 


So what is the Other Side? Just now I’ve described multiple places and islands and boats and waters. The Other Side is wherever I enable it to be. It tastes of crushed blackberries dotted with pocket-fuzz. Lake water that makes your hair curly. The Other Side exists in a system devoid of capitalism or neoliberalism. The Other Side is a place I’ve only seen a couple of times in my life, but something my mind retrospectively ponders every single day. All the reading I do, all the time I spend scouring maps, all of these real-life, tactical, experiences are missing imagination I guess. Sometimes we get lost in places we’ve already been to that feel like places out of dreams. Places where we know a different world outside of words and longitudinal/latitudinal lines. In my imagination, I escape to these worlds and enter the house with huge windows. The weather is always mellow, something good simmers on the stove as a Chet Baker record spins. Missing from the echos of my ears is the steady tick tick tick of a wall clock. Because in the Other Side, time is a reality you can choose to create.

Discovering a New Universe in The Planet of Junior Brown

For my African American Childhoods class, we’ve been reading classics that have some sort of juvenilia reference. Whether that be books written by children, for children, or about children we’ve covered a wide mix. I according to the syllabus picked up my next weekly novel, a two hundred or so page book called The Planet of Junior Brown, written by Virginia Hamilton and published in 1971. Importantly it also has received the Newberry Honor Award. Before I knew it though I was quickly absorbed into this world that felt eerily congruous with other fiction I’ve read before yet almost alien at the same time. In fact, that idea of otherworldliness, of something outside of the universe that I’ve already processed coincides with a huge theme of the book anyway: the solar system and its spatial impact. Before I knew it I had adapted a different position as a witness to this story and after one sitting I had finished the harrowing novel. 

As soon as I finish The Planet of Junior Brown by Virginia Hamilton, I went onto Google to try to figure out if what I read was real. I checked multiple summaries, reviews, and articles, and was astounded to find so many negative remarks about it. Not to mention a lack of academic articles that didn’t just include this novel in the wider conversation of African American childhood literature, but as its own entity. I specifically looked at Goodreads and all the people were talking about how “slow” it was. I was astounded by that idea… in my head, I was like you’re not getting the point at all! The reviewers didn’t even talk about this insane twist at the end with the mental illness aspect that I personally didn’t grasp until the end of the book (but now looking back at it in retrospect, it makes a lot of sense). The reviewers didn’t even understand the metaphor of the planets or the solar system or the delimited space concepts: in which this novel existed throughout. The reviewers said that this book was slow and that it was hard to follow the characters and their purposes. I suppose they thought it didn’t make sense that the novel is titled or rather named after Junior, because it mostly follows Buddy and his very real struggles of homelessness? But this book is about Buddy and this book is about Junior equally. I think that’s the point; they exist together mutually in a system of planets and individuals who in the end realize the point is not individually surviving, but helping each other live in this capitalist society in which their attendance is prioritized over-literal survival. I was astounded reading those reviews and finding that people didn’t relate to these characters didn’t find beauty in the small details, didn’t find a relationship to the sickness physically; in Junior’s mom’s asthma or psychologically in Junior’s mental condition (whether it be schizophrenia, psychosis… I am not sure but I do think that is beyond the point). All of a sudden his music prodigy skills along with his pain, his figure painting of the red man with those planets those beings/humans inside it. All of a sudden it now made sense. And for those reviewers to not understand it to me it’s like what book are you reading? Were you just reading the words as they were written and not on this deeper level? Because I think that’s why it has the Newbery honor book award because this book Hamilton, goes way beyond that surface-level direction of words. Hamilton by creating the specialized solar system, creates the separate entities, the separate individuals, in a system that is so expansive, so infinite, that the Universe in comparison seems minuscule. 

In the end, Buddy says

“because we have to learn to live for each other”

And that’s the point! This is a story about planets, and solar systems: this is a story about mutual coexisting through the trauma of physical and psychological disabilities. A story that refers not only to Junior’s physical disability, his fatness; not only his psychological disability (which is most clearly revealed that the end) but what his racialized identity is. It was often stated especially by Buddy that his dark blackness was one of his most damning elements. What does this book say for his blackness to be included and his planet, his brown planet, his brown and big planet? A planet that includes individuals that don’t smell good and that’s don’t really exist? What does that say about people like Junior, about planets where Juniors exist? And perhaps most importantly, that if they exist why do we abandon them?

And even more frustrating than the reviews was the fact that I could not find a single good academic article on this book (I only found ones where this book was mentioned among other significant black juvenilia literature). Not to mention I could not find a single summary that seemed to cover the true complexities of Hamilton’s tale. But then, as I was walking to my practice and attempting to summarize the plot to my teammate, I realized that a summary or analysis for this book is almost counterintuitive: perhaps that is why barely any exist? You see this book is so much about the physical, spatial realm, a realm in which abstractness and fluidity take precedence over concrete, academic lessons. To bind this novel to only words on a page doesn’t do it justice. The world in which Hamilton created, the planet, exists in her writing and in her beautiful images. So the last thing I want to say is about the fact that this is a novel written for a young audience. At first, when I was reading it I was like no way, this book is insanely complex, how could anyone expect children to get it? But then I realized maybe the reason it has these negative Goodread comments is that adults reviewed it.

I think this novel is so specific to African American childhood survival that while we can observe these astonishing themes we as adults will inevitably struggle in perceiving their true gravity. This book is one of the deepest most pedagogically challenging texts I’ve ever experienced, but to Buddy, his life is just his way to survive. This book is about the trauma of forcing children to be adults in systems that force their own demise. And I think to a lot of black children like Buddy and Junior, this novel might seem way more familiar and realistic than it is to us adults.

So Where Do We Go Now?

I sit here knowing I shouldn’t write about school stuff or the things that make my eyebrows squint downwards so the images in my head can replace my vision. The creases on my face tighten almost rhythmically at the thought of anything abstract. Yet all that spirals around in my brain are the things I’ve been learning. 

When I close my eyes at night I have dreams I’m dining with Luis Barragán or Bijoy Jain. Walking past Ruth Moore sharpening her pencil for her next novel with the shavings clinging to beige and brown bathroom tiles. I close my eyes and imagine myself on an island in the middle of the ocean with a lighthouse and a good book. Would I trust its might against any storm that brushes over? Or a creaky schooner that instead shifts in the water- secured by no landmass does this make us safer?

I wake up from a nap with creases on my hands that fall beneath me. I look down at them and read the words of Baldwin or Morrison creased onto the etches of my skin. Or instead of waking up naturally, I wake up to an alarm that plays tales of my lupine-lady-landlord-laughing lionhearted friend, Brenda, asking me to take her to the post office, grocery store, pharmacy, then library (in that order so I don’t have to make any lefts) for her weekly confession of dependence. 

Subconsciously a small segment of my brain dissects any interaction with the filter of “how does Marx’s theory of materialism manifest into this situation?” Why it does, your guess is better than mine. 

I often wish I could turn my brain off. Sometimes the organic squiggly lines you see on diagrams of brains look more like continents and countries, oceans and lakes, an atlas of all my ideas. Constantly asking myself is this some sort of obsessive-compulsive tendencies or am I really just different? Or maybe I’m no different and this is just all what we’re secretly thinking. Maybe everyone stares outside their windows to look for sparrows.

It used to be easy to write fiction. But now I find myself finding the concept of anything outside of what I am truly experiencing to be egregious. Instead, I think about places I’ve been to and experiences I’ve had. I finally realized I’m not a visual or auditory learner like they try to break us into in elementary school. I’m a spatial learner. In my head, I remember where streets in foreign countries lean to the left or end at an intersection. You ask me to remember my surprise eighth birthday and I can tell you which way in the cafeteria I was facing. 

So my question then is, how do we escape the spatialization of our brains that know not when day and night end. Do we dissociate or push it towards the back of our brain where we store our less pleasant memories. Or do we embrace it? Do we talk to our friends about Ruth Moore’s pencil sharpener and how we care which street you prefer over another? Until my brain is no longer occupied by my classes I wonder what I can fill the stories part of my blog with, the dreams part of my blog with, the spaces part of my blog with. Maybe I don’t always need a map to guide me. Maybe it’s okay if I don’t have a direction for this place, right now, right here.

please clink linked words for reference.

Map of “Somewhere”

            m

I am free

On an island far far away from here, where 

sailboats toss and roll in the 

surf, and seagulls soar like a soprano’s song

Lines destined for a diary

or at least a schooner’s topsail 

becomes the indicator of land where

inlets become infinite, coves abundant

A land where I am free, where I 

am me

An atlas, a map

Bounded by walls of ocean

Binds me, to be free.

I am

Free from whatever is binding me because this land is new and pretty and it revolves around me and maybe that is selfish or individualistic or a product of our economy that doesn’t care about reality.

Maybe, deep down we know we’ll never find land like this.

Or we know we’d ruin it, all the beauty that exists there without us already.

No, I will not continuously be more of a colonizer, a gentrifier, an eco-destroyer

So instead, I imagine islands but strictly in my dreams

Only on pieces of paper or when the moonlight shows its phases

Only with a pen in my hand or when the cicadas come out to sing

Only then am I

    m

free

Map of “Somewhere.” Drawn by me.

Last Resort

I have this backup plan that if my life turns out to be a total failure, devoid of success, passion, and whatever else I determine subconsciously to be continuous with my evolution. Then, if all else fails, I can run away and start all over with mountains and bushes of blueberries and an old banjo carved from an oak tree. A van on new roads with different spatialized regulations that I can fixate over; only my eyes see a scene; drawn to looking for sidewalks or lines in the middle of the road, but bless my beautiful brain, or at least I tell myself. If I run away from here and the soon-to-be future which seems scary, at least I have a warm hug and a forever infinite cup of eight ounces of coffee that looks like mountain peaks and coral reefs. Old abandoned mansions on islands not yet colonized by the tourist industry: oh wait then the perpetrator would be me. I wonder if there exists a place with books for walls and pencils for cars. A place so far removed even your favorite writer hasn’t heard about it. Where your neighbor’s place is dotted with forsythias; a house overgrown with green meadows and purple ivy. Glistening, the sunsets every night and we go to bed with warm bellies and think about vast cities. So maybe that’s it; we’ll always be dreaming of someplace else more ferocious and dynamic with cars instead of pencils and walls instead of books. You know, real-life cities where you can sit at a cafe and still get lost in people-watching for hours. Girls with purple headbands and chunky loafers. Where then does a place with the two of us exist in the mountains, past the creaks and meadows, over the rolling tide of the cold icy beach? Behind those two tall trees that rely on each other; so intertwined you could never take one down without them both crashing down; likewise, I guess you could never love one without loving the other. I imagine this place in my head with my eyes open still peering into the world I currently am in, and I think that this is that alternative reality I’m imagining. This isn’t a last resort for if my life turns out to be a total failure, this is a life I’m dreaming of. Like heavy cream whipped fresh and strawberries still tart, yet to be ripened by artificial spoonfuls of sugar turned natural by smiles and sticky hands. I ask myself is this a last resort or is this my destiny? A fox stands in the middle of the road in my dreams when I’m reminiscing about urban planning and cities, but how ultimately, I want to be by myself in the country. Or maybe with someone, I love, but mostly, with love I have for myself. I think back to saltwater, really cold salt, so cold it almost loses that sticky feeling; I baptize myself every time I choose to jump in and that is the most autonomy I will ever receive. Meadows of wildflowers beckon me and a steady hum of the people I love urge me to not isolate my dreams, and so I run on, in this field that has no end. Where the stars meet and the horizon begins; my oh my I know not where that space lies. What I do know is that a life, or a second chance- last-ditch resort needs to be joyous and pretty. Itchy like wildflowers brushing over your naked ankles on a windy day- perfect prep for a dip in the cool lake. I want a life where even my last resort is good enough.

W.E.B. DuBois Double Consciousness and Brittany Howard’s One Drop of Three-Fifths

Recently in my course “African American Childhoods” we’ve been reading literature ranging from pre- Harlem Renaissance to earlier work on the black existence in the Jim-Crow South. In Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk my class has been working on this essential idea of “double consciousness.” Inevitably, it wasn’t until I was sitting in my room listening to some awesome music on my crappy ten-dollar speaker that I realized a connection between two brilliant minds that I just had to make. 

Some of the books we’ve read in this class thus far are: 

Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson, and Passing by Nella Larsen.

So how does this theory of double consciousness relate to a song released in 2019? The brilliant Brittany Howard released a solo album called Jaime after a great run with her infamous band, Alabama Shakes. Jaime, meant to be a personal expedition of Howard’s personal life is full of bangers, but “Goat Head” is by far my favorite. Immediately this song examines the historical and personal legacy of racism in this country and in Howard’s own family. So often is the idea of being “mixed race” fetishized, stigmatized, and completely misunderstood in contemporary art. Weirdly racist tones of; 

I don’t care if you’re black, green, or white…

White girls wanting to have sex with black men so they can have a “mixed kid” with “blue eyes, light brown skin, and long eyelashes”

Which side of your family do you like more?

With “Goat Head” I got the first couple of metaphors: I got the green tomatoes and that god has blue eyes. But it wasn’t until I listened to this song repeatedly until I heard that last meaningful line: “I’m one drop of three-fifths, right?” 

It is not my position to speak on the actual personal implications of this subject but this post is meant to amplify Howard’s insane intelligence. Howard who’s a raging lesbian, rockstar, and black woman, is the first artist I’ve heard use such a complex theory of “double consciousness” and turn it into a line of lyrics in an insanely rhythmic and catchy song. While a class full of mostly privileged white kids talked about DuBois in my English class for 80 minutes, Howard summed up the true, whole experience in this one line. So as I go back to the beginning of my story, you know, sitting on my floor in my room listening to my shitty speaker as I was doing homework… I can’t help but think how blind Academia is, or perhaps students like myself, how blind we are when we don’t include voices like Howards? Or maybe, maybe I’ll just have to ask my professor if I can aux next class. 

See, tomatoes are green

And cotton is white

My heroes are black

So why God got blue eyes?

My daddy, he stayed

My grandmama’s a maid

My mama was brave

To take me outside

‘Cause mama is white

And daddy is black

When I first got made

Guess I made these folks mad

See, I know my colors, see

But what I wanna know is…

Who slashed my dad’s tires and put a goat head in the back?

I guess I wasn’t s’posed to know that, too bad

I guess I’m not ‘posed to mind ’cause I’m brown, I’m not black

But who said that?

See, I’m black, I’m not white

But I’m that, nah, nah, I’m this, right?

I’m one drop of three-fifths, right?

Goat head in the back

Goat head in the back

Goat head in the back

Goat head in the back

Goat head in the back

Goat head in the back

Goat head in the back

Goat head in the back

Goat head in the back

Intro to My Own Analysis on William H Whyte’s The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces in Princeton, New Jersey

My college friend had to watch this absolutely stunning 80s film for her cities class and as I viewed these nostalgic and sterile clips I found a complete connection to my own viewership in my hometown of Princeton, NJ. All though there are a lot of public small spaces in Princeton similar to the ones Whyte examined, I will be focusing on three in particular: Woodrow Wilson School and the Fountain of Freedom or “Woody Woo”, Hinds Plaza on Witherspoon Street, and Palmer Square. 

This post is a good example of writing about the spaces part of the name in Stories Dreams & Spaces.

I want to note that this post here is merely an introduction to my exploration, I want to be able to examine these spaces closely and in person, which requires me to be back in Princeton obviously. But until I go back “home”, I think it is at least worth noting the connection between these three spaces and Whyte’s film. So much like my book reviews on this blog, this introduction will only be a brief review. 

Most specifically the space I connected to the most with regards to the film was Woody Woo. Definitely the biggest connection to the movie, I found it could be looked at in the lens that many of his categories explore: the usage of trees, sit-able areas, water, etc. While for right now I will not be diving into the specific technicalities I will say the nostalgia of this 80s film reminded me of the nostalgia I had with this fountain. Before a swimming spot was merely a google away, Woody Woo was where all the local children would go to cool off. You’d meet a vast array of people as you swam/waded in the shallow and (probably filthy) fountain water. But you’d also bask in the complete joy of interacting with this space that seemed like a magical realm for a child. Now, even as a 20-year-old, I find myself pulled back to the fountain with its vast array of sit-able spaces, tree cover, and division yet inclusion from the busy road parallel.

I plan on exploring the specifics of Hinds Plaza and Palmer Square when I am able to physically observe the spaces some more. So let this be an inspiration for a new prescription of glasses I can use when I head back to Princeton. My friend kept remarking on how Whyte’s interruptions were so true yet mostly go unnoticed throughout our lives. Yet as someone who has always found a deep connection to what he refers to as “small urban spaces”, I found Whyte’s film to be liberating. For the first time, I heard words and saw images that summed up my own opinion on these spaces.

Swan’s Island

One of my favorite movies of all time undoubtedly has to be Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson. It’s the kind of movie where no matter how many times I drink in its scenes soaked in a yellow tint of childhood nostalgia and accompanied by a soundtrack you absorbed from your grandma’s record player- no matter how many times I never seem to get sick of watching it. I watch Moonrise Kingdom and notice something new every time. As I grow older I relate to different characters and get different subtle jokes, and as my eyes bask in familiarity I realize that I wish to live in the actual scenes of New Penzance Island. When I got the opportunity to work in a small museum nestled on an island off the coast of Maine with a beautiful lighthouse and forests, swamps, creeks, and mountains just waiting to be adventured on- I knew part of my fantasy was coming true. But it wasn’t until I took a cramped ferry off of Mount Desert Island from Bass Harbor to Swan’s Island that I found myself surrounded by Anderson’s fantasy, or perhaps my own. 

When I drove my small Toyota Yaris onto the ferry I thought about how weird it was for a transportation vehicle to be transported by another one. I imagined all the fish and waves and seaweed-covered shells holding this big boat up. Fog surrounded our voyage and even the vision of twenty feet starboard was rare. When we arrived at the island it was only until I drove off the ferry when I realized my phone lacked service and therefore google maps: I really was stranded in a foreign place completely by myself. But it is just an island, right? How hard is it to get lost? I followed the car in front and turned right. Before I knew it I was driving on a foggy-covered piece of land in the middle of the grand ocean. I swear I saw swans fly overhead. 

Eventually, I made my way to the lighthouse where I met Sage. A local teenager born on the island, daughter of lobsterman and badass who swam the six miles in the freezing water to the mainland to raise money. Sage was essentially the lighthouse’s keeper and as we talked our conversation went from lighthouse guardianship to using the credit card scanner square to make transactions for our customers and visitors. I felt like I met a long-lost sister. As I made it to the top of the lighthouse I wondered if the heavens would part and the steeple rupture in a storm- I wondered if we would be left hanging by the strength of our own fingers like Anderson’s greatest scene of conflict in the movie. I ate lunch on a cliff face and listened to the birds rustle in the high grass around me. What is it like to be completely devoid of all constructs you’ve created for yourself on the mainland I wonder? Now I know. 

I went on to explore and eventually made it to the local quarry (Sage’s recommendation). The one-way loop of lobster shacks and small houses felt straight out of a map from a children’s book. I walked to the top of the quarry hundreds of feet above and peered down on the locals swimming and soaking up the fun. Seagulls sprinkled the water like the water was salty, not fresh, and it felt like another scene from a favorite movie: Garden State. I had my Zach Braff moment and screamed all my sorrows into the abyss. Then, I went swimming. I dove into the water which felt warmer than salt but colder than a lake. I swam to the dock and jumped off knowing if I let myself dive too deep I might just reach the Earth’s true core. Where was I? How was this place real?

Next, I went to Sand Beach which required a journey of weaving through a densely green forest. When I arrived it wasn’t tropical like I imagined but blanketed in that same morning fog. I dove into the colder water and realized I wanted to stay in forever. I climbed onto rocks and jumped off like I was a little child. Swimming at a mysterious beach at the edge of the world all by yourself gives you a sense of freedom that is indescribable. I headed back and eventually after a long wait made it onto the very end of the ferry. As I waited at the cove’s edge I couldn’t help but ponder about the places I wondered, reaching farther than the sight of my binoculars. Swan’s Island is beyond beautiful. But perhaps more than that I was enchanted by this idea of my movie fantasy melding into my present reality. As I sat on a rock with the icy water lapping onto my feet I wondered where that mystical fantasy even ends when places like this really exist in the supposed real world. Real-world creations of realities that exclude such beauty seem to me, more made-up than a world full of this much wonder. Why do we live in a construct so devoid of this beauty and call it real life when a made-up world full of true allurement actually exists? But then I remember that I am just a visitor here. I am not a resident whose ancestors lived on this land for centuries only to be brutalized by the hands of European imperialism. I am not the daughter of a lobsterman who does not have enough money for school supplies. This brought me back to the quote I included in my presentation on lighthouses: 

“Caught up in a capitalist economy which concentrates wealth and power in ever fewer metropolitan centers, both islanders and mainlanders prefer to live by the islands they nourish in their minds and hearts rather than live on the islands themselves”

(55, John R. Gillous, Places Remote and Islanded). 

Maybe that is why I loved Swan’s Island so much. Moonrise Kingdom created such a fantasy of this island in my head that when I experienced it for a day I felt in touch with that physicality. Ask me to experience that rawness every day and I might have a different answer. But for that one day, all by myself, I went to Swan’s Island and had perhaps the best day of my life.

Midwestern Marx Publication: Delimited Spaces in Marxist Revolutions

Delimited Spaces in Marxist Revolutions. By: Ella Kotsen

A piece I wrote for Midwestern Marx was recently just published. I would love if my readers here at SDS went and checked it out.

My Home

I’ve written fairly extensively on this idea of “home”. Between my reflection on voluntary and involuntary spaces in Laura Ingalls Wilder books, my take on houselessness during the covid19 pandemic in a response to an article published by N+1 “No Shelter”, in my own novel’s premise is an examination of the feeling of belonging, and my recent nosedive into delimitation in Lighthouses and islands, I thought I had consulted this topic enough. But it wasn’t until I was driving on route 102 like I do every single day here on Mount Desert Island that I realized my own personal relationship with home has changed too. 

When I was little I used to have nightmares that we were going to move. Most of the time in the dreams we didn’t even move far, but just the thought of leaving our home scared me beyond measure. I didn’t understand how anyone would want to leave their warn wooden banisters, musty basements, stained carpets with just the right food indentations, doorbell that rings a little too loud. I never wanted to live in a mansion because that would mean I’d have to leave my home and that would be too big of an ask. And it was a real fear when I moved to college, homesickness, that feeling you get in a sterile hotel room with rough sheets that make you dream of the robustness of used and old blankets back home. Would that same alienation follow me as I moved out of the place I lived in my whole life?

The short answer is no. I never really got homesick at college. Mind you I had a great experience and was kept busy with schoolwork, friends, and basketball, but that nostalgia for a smell and a touch never followed me like I expected it would. Soon, when I was trapped back in New Jersey during the covid19 pandemic I would actually have that longing for my dorm room: that was the first step in realizing that perhaps home isn’t merely four walls and family photos on the wall. 

In my past engagements of writing and literature that forced me to question the ideas of home, houselessness, imperialization, delimitation, and the taking up of space, I’ve inevitably approached the topics with evidence-based analysis. But if I separate myself from the confines of a good book or the literature about islands, if I really question my own thought-process separate from academia or accounts from other people- what is my own relationship with home like? Why as I was driving on route 102, past the saltwater inlet and at the light turning right onto Sound Drive did I feel this unsteady wave? Not a wave of homesickness, not a wave of knowing homelessness, and not a wave of feeling like I was entirely home on that right-hand turn, but, somewhere right in the middle. 

In my biomythography, I wrote 

“My Home is Flannel sheets and Olive oil rings on the counter and Solid wooden doors with cracked paint and Blue tile bathroom with grout that really needs a clean and That house smell that your friends tell you your house has Toilet paper without the cardboard roll- save the trees!!!!!!! Furniture we got from when my uncle sold his second house Food that tastes like how my mom hugs, how my dad talks Coins that someone left on the table, waiting to go upstairs A piano with three trombones and two and a half clarinets Hillside is my home in the summer and it is safe and familiar A refuge for crickets and mice and dragonflies and ants and Warm, metallic water to wash my hands and feet and face”

linked here

But now I wonder if home is even more. I am not going to deny how bringing my physical objects into my new spaces helps me feel comforted and homely. But I’ve also found a disponibility in the old constructs I considered vital to my idea of home. I find home while driving on 102, the windows hand-cranked down just a bit to let the breeze whisper over my sunkissed face; I find home in that feeling because all of the aspects I ritualized in my home have become present in my own self. Through maturity, or life lessons, or hardships, or heartbreak- through happiness and discovery the hardy-wood light blue walls of the house I’ve lived in my whole life has become synonymous with my own skin. 

When I am driving on 102 after a long but productive day at the work I love, after a two and a half-mile run and an ocean dip, towards a place where I will be with people that make me smile endlessly- when I am driving, then, I am happy. A happy me is a home for me. 

Maybe that’s what it means to grow old; to find a home within yourself. After all, it is impossible to miss something when it is always with you- or is it? Perhaps and maybe even more importantly, what triggers that connection to home within myself should be idealized more: happiness. When I am happy I am home and that is one of the biggest life lessons I have ever learned.