The very first thing I hung in my new apartment was the Dear Sugar poster. At the head of my bed. Just above where I lie my head each night.
“Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”
“Every last one of us can do better than give up.”
“The fuck is your life. Answer it. “
I moved from Brooklyn back into Manhattan. Into a tiny two bedroom apartment in a tangle of streets in the heart of Greenwich Village.
After so many apartments over so many years I worry about little more than light and noise. So on a breezy day in mid-April when Lauren and I walked up the one flight of stairs at the back of the building and into a tiny apartment with large windows and quite a lot of quiet we both knew it would do just fine.
And so a few weeks later, when my new space was little more than boxes and a bed, I pulled out a single nail and hung that Dear Sugar poster above my bed, knowing immediately, that it would live there alone.
I went back to Ms. Strayed’s book, Tiny Beautiful Things, a few days ago. I was in search of a very particular essay right at the start of the book.
“My mother’s last word to me clanks inside me like an iron bell that someone beats at dinnertime: love, love, love, love, love. “
How often I think of these words. And the clank of my very own iron bell: home, home, home, home, home.
Love by another name.
Time keeps hurtling forward—somersaulting over itself.
And because it does, and because we cannot change this, we must move, at the same time, in the direction of our choosing—into the thick woods of what has meaning for us. Which is very often a dark and treacherous and tangled place. Where roots grow sideways out of soil and it’s a steep and slippery slope to the waters below.
The notion of home clangs around in my body, banging me up a bit. Mostly because it’s an ever-moving target that resists my desperate efforts to wrangle it into stillness.
Home is not today what it was the day before, nor what it will be tomorrow.
And I am caught in the thick underbrush of discovery.
Which, is as it turns out, a prickly place to live.
But the soil here is thick and rich and awfully fertile.
When I moved across the East River I said I’d never move back—if I could help it, I wouldn’t move back.
But sometime, in the space of those two years, the clanging of home changed.
And suddenly home became shorter subway rides and lower rents and the awareness that this phase of my life is ephemeral at best. And so instead of trying to change that, I’d dive into it. Accept that the beauty was in the impermanence. And that perhaps moving back to Manhattan would be the beginning of a long and sweet goodbye.
And that, maybe, in order to move on, I’d first need to live here in a way I never before had. Which is to say, right in the middle of everything.
Brooklyn was so good to me. The backdrop to such a magical, and deeply personal time—belonging only to me. Already it feels half-imagined. I fear I maybe found it too soon.
But I’m quite sure I had to leap-frog to a phase of my life that saw me living so totally alone, and in a place so different than Manhattan, in order to return to where I am now: still quite young, still with a bit of fight, growing roots into the air.
Still searching for the meaning of home. Still reaching for the brass ring on the moving carousel.
Not where I thought I’d be. But where I am. Nonetheless.
Home, home, home, home, home. Love, love, love, love, love.
There’s a large windowsill just next to my bed. I’ve placed five small succulents there.
I’d move back to the city and I’d get plants--that was the deal I made with myself.
I had meant to get them way back when I lived in Washington Heights.
Was absolutely sure I’d get them upon moving to Brooklyn.
But somehow I never managed to.
Ten tiny succulents in all.
Ten succulents, and me absolutely terrified I will kill each. and every. one. of. them.
Lauren has told me to stop touching them.
But I fuss. Because each one is helping, in its own small way, to answer the hanging question of home—and what it is now... and what it will be tomorrow.
When my father came to visit last weekend he asked where I would write. The apartment is small--there's not room enough for my desk. Currently I've tucked the pieces of it away beneath my bed.
Tom had asked the same question.
I don't know yet, was all I could think to say.
But here I am writing, cross-legged on my bed, looking up toward two frames with a split photo of a building in Paris.
Two photos I didn't take. Because I have yet to go to Paris.
But two photos as a window to what comes next, I like to think.
Which seems like the perfect place from which to write.
A view of home and love and its many iterations--both present and future.
I can’t wait to get to Paris.
And yet, I can. And that is now an immutable truth in my life.
Paris will wait.
For the right person. For the right time.
It too is a question in search of an answer.
And the thing is, I’m okay with the questions. And I’m okay with the slow unfolding of answers.
I’m okay with waiting for something better—moving towards something better. For the refusal to accept anything less. And I won’t apologize for the trajectory of my life. For my many mistakes and missteps. For spending so much time in the thick woods of discovery.
Because home is the pulsing belief that there is still more to unearth. And love is the iron bell of my own heart.
And the gold ring is just an inch beyond my fingertips.