A Nomad at Home
I am a woman who has not fully unpacked her suitcase in a year. Actually, it’s been longer than that, but the past 12 months, in particular, can only be described as nomadic. For the record, my address is in Southern Michigan. Way southern…nearly Indiana. But you’d never know it, judging from how much time I have, or haven’t, spent here.
Part of that is due to the nature of being a musician. Part is due to being a writer. Part is due to the fact that as a musician and a writer, I sometimes accept temporary employment to fill in the gaps. The rest is due to having a partner who lives in another country. And so I have become a nomad.
In the past 12 months I’ve driven from Michigan to Idaho and back; directed 3 camps for young writers and a retreat for adult writers; cooked for 5 women’s retreats (all in Northern Michigan); presented writing workshops for 11 days in the United Arab Emirates, toured England for 3 weeks; visited New Brunswick (I didn’t even know there was an Atlantic time zone!); and performed concerts, conducted interviews, and worked in gardens in too many Michigan towns to count. Oh yes, and spent a little bit of time, though not enough, in Ontario with my partner.
These days, if you ask me where Home is, I’m inclined to say “Here.” Because when you live as a nomad, when your bag is always at least part-way packed, when you’ve learned where the water glasses and soup spoons are located in a dozen different addresses of which only one is your own, when the garden you planted in spring is more than 350 miles away from where you get your mail, when there are too many mornings when you wake up and have to think about where you are, you learn that, trite as it is, Home truly is where you make it. It is where your heart resides.
Home is an open door, a genuine smile, a sincere embrace, and a cup of coffee across the table from a friend, whether a long-time one or brand new. Home is shelter from the storm, whether the one that obscures the road with snow and wind or dampens the spirit with longing. It is where the heart finds peace, the body rest, the spirit encouragement and acceptance. It is a place where one can just “be” without feeling compelled to “be something”. In the past 12 months, I have found myself at home in surprising places.
This morning, as I write, I am at my address. I am at home, in the town where I was born. It’s a sparkling, clear, early summer morning that feels just like my childhood. I slept last night in a bed beneath an open window; heard the familiar sound of birdsong at dawn. I have coffee in a cup that I didn’t need to search to find. I don’t have to be anybody but myself today and I know that I am loved by the people around me. Today I will buy strawberries at the market where I have purchased strawberries countless times before, and I will bake biscuits for a shortcake. I’ll hang laundry on the line and go for a walk through familiar neighborhoods, past my old high school and the park. I’ll sit on the front porch and wait for the lightning bugs to come out and the streetlights to come on. Maybe the ice cream truck will come by, and if it does I’ll hurry to find some money to get an Eskimo Pie. I’ll sleep again under the window with a breeze fluttering the curtains until the cardinal and the robins wake me.
And then, tomorrow, I’ll be driving again, north toward another Home. And there I will stay until it is time, once again, to travel. My bag, after all, is still packed.