An old blue hat box with a water stain where years back I rest my glass. I lift the top. Odds and ends. Yellowed papers scribbled with drifting thoughts for future engagement. Cards inked in childlike writing “Happy birthday, mama, I love you!” Tears. At the bottom of the well, floats my poetry magnet “home” staring back at me.
I cup it in my hand and fold my fingers.
The realization washes over me; I’ve carried this magnet around for fifteen years like an amulet. Hopeful. It used to cling to my refrigerator door in Amherst along with enough words to tell this story in a hundred different ways. An icy blur of rage, sticky packing tape, weeping, crumpled newspaper, torn photographs, constant relocations, half-filled cardboard boxes, joblessness, bubble-wrap, poverty, judgment, the devastating addiction and untimely loss of my first child, yet somehow this remains. “Home.” I still hold it in my hands.
My early learning was that home was an unsafe place and I spent myself in leaving. As a child through my imagination, in color and writing, as a teen throwing my life out the window, until eventually I found the door as a young adult.
To give love and accept love was my greatest act of courage in a conscious decision to experience home. We would move in together, listen for hours and talk for years. He was my best friend and lover that I stayed with far too long. He was meant only to light my heart aflame, the birth of my first daughter, to ignite my soul.
My daughters, my girls, my babies. I would create a fortress where my children would be so loved and safe that darkness would crack and bleed light at my presence; their fierce protector. Home; preparing their food , my spirit kneaded into the very bread they ate. Home; the single blossom on their nightstand. Home; curled up in bed together reading stories. Home; where the garden grew, the dog ate my flowers and cat ripped magnets off the refrigerator one by one. But who will remember the home I built? The child that died or the child traumatized? If there’s barely a memory of it to share, did it truly make any difference at all?
Home-sick. Rub together two unfinished childhoods, stir one with alcohol or any substance of choice and create a bomb that will burn your life to the ground.