Tag Archives: homecoming

Upon Wonder

This is a bit of flash I wrote two years ago. It is about a girl who finally gets to go home. The homecoming theme is almost up so I am going to sneak it in under the wire.
xJen

A Warmer Place for Starving

The sun’s hot light clutched the faded paint of  the small brown house at the end of the block. Inside, abandoned bowls of Ramen Noodles and half-eaten bologna and mayonnaise sandwiches sat on almost every surface of the living room. I counted 12 Styrofoam bowls, but couldn’t be bothered to count the paper plates wobbling upon stacks of wonder bread upon paper plate upon wonder bread upon paper upon wonder. And they never went away, each one simply covered with a new version of itself.

I left school early with a stomach ache moving through me in waves the day she came to me. The heat of late summer followed me home, and once inside did a sour dance around the mayonnaise-perfumed room that left me dizzy and tired. When I woke  there she was, sitting cross-legged atop a piece of  drying Wonder Bread. She was small like an insect…

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homecoming: a chronology

I.

1990 probably

or 91 i am so

young

the desert night sky whispers something to me

something comforting it is the first time i notice

the moon

i am worried/excited it is following me home

where will i put it?

we are leaving Safeway probably or the

mall

i think it is summer

water is rationed but the air is cool

the star on the side of the mountain is bright

i am eating something chocolate, a donut, with colored sprinkles

i can still taste it i will taste it forever

the moon and the star on the mountain are still there

this memory is an amalgam

II.

another car ride

leaving Texas

we had oranges the night before

we sat in the dim light of the neighbor lady’s den

peeling oranges they left a sour sadness in my mouth

Stevie Wonder calls to say I love you

all the way to Your New Home You Are Going To Love It Denver

Stevie’s love and a Tiny Toon Adventures coloring book

in the back seat occupy me through desert nothing

this desert is not home

(I will come to love it but not yet)

there is snow

there are squirrels and creeks and other oddities

there is sap in the trees! this home is strange

III.

we are going to Kansas now

all i know is Kansas is in black and white

will i still see in color?

i have to meet my dad’s family my family

will there be lemonade on wrap-around porches?

are all the houses painted white with picket fences?

will it be like meeting the Golden Girls?

i miss my Nana Rosa’s menudo, raisin tamales

i hate raisins but i miss them

the peach tree in the back yard and fridge full

of guava nectar on the back porch

my cousins here ask me to say things in Spanish

Say the cow jumped over the moon!

there is spaghetti and Wonder Bread toast

ramen noodles and mayonnaise

there are big baggy t-shirts and not a single braid!

this is not my Golden Girls Dream Home

IV.

i dream of home

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We Used To Wait

This brilliant interactive video of Arcade Fire’s We Used To Wait will take you home, wherever that may be.

You will be prompted to enter an address– please share your video or address in the comments if you feel so inclined, so the rest of us can go home with you!

The address I entered is
11209 Yukon, El Paso, TX, USA

xJen

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I Grew Up in Gold Mining Country

After fourteen and a half years together, my husband only just realized the other day that the general store where I grew up literally sold gold pans, pick axes, tools, animal feed, various sundries, and livestock (mostly chicks and ducklings and goslings) underneath. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, the nearest city, Placerville, was 45 minutes away. These are pictures I took on a drive to my house chronicling the extreme vast nothingness of Mt. Aukum Road in El Dorado County, Northern California. Trees have lives of their own and are magical here, and the extreme poverty allows structures (mostly barns) to become severely decayed like a watercolor painting. These pictures are from 2008 when I went back for one afternoon after moving away 8 years earlier. Nothing had changed. In fact, businesses had closed down since I had left, so the area, in fact, devolved. This is my California.

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by | February 13, 2015 · 10:52 pm

Leaving House

Day #1 of Packing: Cycling Loss

Today it’s First Aid Kit on repeat. Thoughts crashing in on themselves lie waves as I remove clothes from draws and pictures from walls and myself from this place piece by piece. Today it’s just straight up loss.

39 degrees in the house and I feel like I’m going through some sort of baptism of fire. This does the trick, a little bit, because it reminds me that our new apartment is brick and will have better insulation.
I listen to sad songs by girls with great harmonies and every now and then I have to lie down for a little while. I suppose I could distract myself by listening to a podcast but this time I really want to feel all my feelings, the good ones and the ones that hurt.

It is important to feel sad, to get to know how much you love a place while you still get to live there.

Day #2 or Packing: Goodbye Cat Friend.

I start sorting through my wardrobe but soon I have to stop because the thought of giving most of this away makes me start to sweat, and feel stupid. They are just shoes. They are just things. Except they are just not. All these things are tied to moments, specific ones; I’ll always remember going to see the John Butler trio playing at the Palais Theatre for the first time, but will I remember that it was the first time I’d worn high heeled platform sandlals and that I couldn’t walk properly because the ribbons kept coming undone and we almost missed the tram?
Is that even worth remembering? Or, if I make space in my wardrobe, will I also make space in my brain?Writing them down is no good because I can’t resist the urge to turn everything into a  story.

But this is how you get through it, by writing,. by making. The only way to heal your pain is to art your way through it.

Cat Friend comes up to our porch looking for a pat and some food and my heart can’t take his little scratched up nose. After sitting for a while in front of the empty bowl, he settles down to sleep on the front step, knowing that each time I wialk past the front door I’ll be reminded that I am abandoning him to some cold, hungry nights.

He is going to be okay. Just as I am going to be okay. He’s going to hunt the mice that will still live in our front garden just as I am going to hunt donuts from the homemade donuts shop that is on the same block as our new place.

Day #3 of Packing: Coming Around

We’ve packed our bookshelves up and taken the art off the walls and this makes me feel better, like we’re removing ourselves slowly, carefully, but totally. Each blank wall space makes this place feel a little less like home, and so a little easier to leave.

I watch the whole first season of broad city while wrapping mugs in the old clothes I’ve promised K. that I will give to the Salvation Army.  Their no-fucks-given attitude is like a warm hug and I am reminded that most people my age don’t have a backyard to put a hammock in.

I’m feeling okay. These moments will be what I call home for a while, but I know it won’t be long until I move on to make another set.  They wont go, only shift from moments to memories

Leaving House

I am useless and helpless. Everything is moving too quickly, I feel like I’m being wrenched out, like I’m holding onto the doorframe by my fingernails. I have no place to retreat, no safe space to plant my flag, to stop and take deep breath. He should know how I am suffering, but there is work to be done. My Dad calls me to see if we need help, and he can hear the tears in my voice, the depression sitting in my throat, coating my speech as I try to lift another box of books that is too heavy for me. My parents drive across town to come and help me lift those boxes and I feel a little better because they are there. They are my safe space, I have planted my flag in their hearts.

We pile things into cars and on the way to the new house I lie down in the backseat, my head resting on a stuffed toy Gorilla.

I know now, all I have to do to get back home is siay your number, or say your name three times under my breath, and wait for you to call. Sometimes I still wait for you to tell me it’s going to be okay.

Brunswick, Melbourne: Coming Home
Even though the space is smaller, I can finally actually breath. In fact,
I even like the closeness of the little brick huddle. Sharing a building feels like I’m part of something bigger, part of a community. Safe. Even the sounds you can hear in the kitchen of the people walking around upstairs helps to calm me. The floors are wood cool under my feet and we have ceiling fans and an electric oven.

Our first night in we walk to the bar one block over, and have beer and burgers and talk like we haven’t  in a long while. We drink tea on the couch like we used to in the old house and I can feel it coming on, I can feel it coming back to me.

Home isn’t all the stuff in those boxes, it isn’t the weatherboard walls or the garden gate or the stray cat showing up every evening at six. Home is the place that holds the time I get to spend with you.

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Home is Where the Books Are

When I think about coming home, I think about traveling.  That feeling of living out of a suitcase for however long and then walking into my bedroom and seeing all this stuff.  All this stuff.  Why do I have so much stuff?  Would I ever need it?  How could I when I’ve survied just fine an ocean away with a few changes of clothes and a tiny air-travel approved bag of toiletries?  But one thing I’d really miss are my books.  I always pack one with me if I’m straying too far from home.  So, it was Milo battling the Doldrums as we drove out west when I was nine years old.  And Charlie tinkering on his typewriter when I took that heartbroken trip to Pennsylvania one year.  Patti and Robert whispering to me on my first long road trip with my new husband.  And Weetzie, of course, kissing me anywhere and everywhere along the way.

There was this challenge going around social media last year.  Everyone tagged me in it, but I never got around to putting my reply up.  The challenge was:  “List ten book that have stayed with you in some way.  Do not take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard.  They do not have to be the “right” books, or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.”

So, here is my reply.  That rag-tag group of friends that stowaway, or are waiting for me back home.

image

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Three Ways Home

Land

It’s Connecticut for an eternity, or if you are coming from Canada, it is Vermont.  But when it is Connecticut it is Connecticut for ages, it seems, and just as you are getting used to the billboards and the walls of rock with dynamite lines etched in them and waterfalls of ice over them, just then you see Fenway Park.  And before you know it the city is there, in rapid succession.  It is Fenway and it is your old high school and it is your friend’s alma mater and it is dark, dark, a tunnel.  And you emerge where you need to, and you barely notice the way home from there, because you’ve gone this way your whole life, you can do it in your sleep, and you do, because invariably it’s nearly midnight.

 

Air

You feel the subtle descent before you can see a break in the ocean below.  And then the boats become a little bigger.  You start to see the trails of white behind them, and then you see the color of the water begin to change.  You can see the dark sapphire give way to lighter blues, almost green as the sand beneath rises closer to the surface, as you are coming closer to the surface.  You look ahead and you see Boston, all glass and stone and clear blues and reflections of the sun and clouds.

It’s a wonderful trick of civil engineering that you think you might land on the sea, because that is where the runway ends.  But you always catch the land.  Just not before you can see the ripples in the water under your window.

Water

We were maybe 9, and I was new at sailing.  We three were the only Bostonians at our summer camp in Cambridge, and that felt monumental.  We conversed with other campers about normal things like stickers and embroidery floss and face paint, but we had the farthest to go home and the earliest to wake up in the morning.

We set out in our little sailboat, our most confident with her hand on the rutter, the other girl minding the boom, and me in the bottom, head between my knees so that I wouldn’t be knocked out of the boat when the wind changed, armed with a milk jug with the top cut off, to bail.  It was a cloudless day on the Charles, and we were halfway across the river, the brick castle of MIT behind us, and the Esplanade ahead.  There was a gust of wind, the boom swung over my head,  and through my fingers, pressed as they were over my eyes, I saw the rutter escape my friend’s hand.

I thought of the dreaded word mentioned in our short sailing class: capsize.  I thought of how I used the elementary backstroke for my swimming test, so that I could take this class.  It was so easy it felt like cheating. How could I ever do the elementary backstroke halfway across a river?  A river that even then I knew divided the two largest cities in eastern Massachusetts?  How could I swim to a city?

While I whimpered, bailing out the two inches of water that had accumulated around my pink Chucks, my friends righted the boat.  We sat, holding all our respective tools tightly.  I don’t remember who said, “Let’s sail to Boston.”

Along the Esplanade, I only know of one small public dock.  It’s kind of hidden, and it is about twenty feet of wood that is weathered and grey. It was directly ahead of us, and at the time I assumed there were plenty just like it all along the river.  We cheered, more with relief of touching land again than with pride in the act of sailing from one city to another. I wanted to get out of the boat, to make a small mark in the dirt to commemorate our crossing, but instead we pushed off the dock once more.  This time I kept my head above the rim, watching as the dock, the trees, and the townhouses receded in the distance.

I will probably always be new at sailing.

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