noun, adjective


1. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.
2. the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.
3. an institution for the homeless, sick, etc.: a nursing home.
4. the dwelling place or retreat of an animal.
5. the place or region where something is native or most common.

How home is crafted, defined, or delimited from everywhere else is singular as skin. And though a dim procession of places reels back in time, certainly no one and definite home can be distinguished from the series of places inhabited through the years. The effect of this rootlessness is carried through the seasons. This wandering from place to place cements in me the notion that problems can be solved through upheaval. I nurture the vain but perpetual hope that in a new locale, with other surroundings, the circumstances of my life will improve. And though I know now, this is almost never so, I still find myself tempted by the notion that my location in space might change my interstices as well.

I remember many places I have lived. There were no less than eleven places before I became an adult. The only place recalled with any fondness is the place my parents shared before they split. It was large and full of light, had hard wooden floors and stairs to slide down, a big bay window in the dining room and a view of Buckman across the street. The rooms were furnished sparely, so when I yelled my voice echoed back at me. Far better was when I sang. I remember looking out the window at the school and thinking enviously about my sister, there during the school day, who got to swim. I don’t remember clearly which angle I saw the school from, so whenever I drive past now I’m not sure if it’s the gray Dutch colonial on Stark or the white one on 18th and Oak. It’s a fashionable neighborhood now, and I can’t afford rent there myself, but I know I loved living there.

It was a time when I was still a child treated with some tenderness. I can remember being bathed in the sink, and fitting, but just barely. It was in this house that I had my first surgery to correct my eye. There are photos of me sitting in the windowsill one yellow barrette, one blue. The whites of my eyes closest to my tear ducts are bloodshot from the operation. I smile sweetly in one shot, look out seriously through lowered lids in another. And these are my favorite photos of me. I am a solemn but innocent child, vulnerable, but safe. When I see myself this way, I cannot help but love the child who sits in the frame, pleased to be photographed and enjoying the attention this trip to the doctor has afforded. This child has a sweetness I can no longer locate within myself. She trusts the world she lives in as an unpredictable, but largely enjoyable place. She is, as yet, untouched by the fear and mistrust of others that will mark the remainder of her childhood. I want to weep for what I know she will endure, I want to protect her, and feel deep compassion for her, though I fail so often to muster any pity for myself now. And I am sad to say, that this is her last happy home.