You can learn a lot about a person from their home. Their photos, style of furnishings, lamps, sofa, chairs, all shed light on what an individual likes and values. The problem is I lack a home of my own. The picture above is of my family’s home. It is where I currently sleep and sometimes eat, when I’m not out on the road. My belongings – pottery, dishware, extensive art collection, etc. are boxed and buried in a small alcove on the top floor. They indicate I’m a nesting nomad or nomadic nester, a person with the desire to lay down roots, but instead keeps busy wandering the roads. I spend most days traveling to interviews or writing in the Books-A-Million coffee shop. I teach at students' homes, the local community college, a writers’ center. I drive to a writing workshop in Cambridge, NY and am fine with making the 2. 5 hour trip to visit friends there. I spend lots of time at the movie theater, visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Waterbury Center, Vt., and at my friend Joan’s in Warren. We travel to visit pug friends, see plays, visit her daughter, participate in dog shows. I load my pugs in their doggie car seats and hit the road to dog parks and pet stores. I journey to Hana, Hawaii, Laguna Beach, Chicago. Disney World. I seldom sit still.
For the last few years I have made plans to build a house on the 10-acres of land I own, but all have failed, primarily because I am a starving artist and even if I were to eschew the creative life for the 9 to 5 grind, I have often been too sick over the course of my life to hold a regular job. So for the time being, the best way to assess my values and judge my belongings is to take a look at the trunk of my car.
In the back, you’ll find a sleeping bag and pillows – two circular smilies, one yellow, one purple, two wool blankets, a host of dogs supplies, CDs, audio books, an array of cleaning products from microfiber cloths to Windex, Armor all and ice de-icer. I have a coupon holder and a sparkling Jesus piggy bank. He is bedecked in silver glitter that often comes loose in the trunk of a car, casting a shimmery glow on everything put back there. He is filled with dimes and pennies, nickels and quarters.
My interior décor consist of two front car-seat covers, clad with colorful peace symbols. A miniature stuff pug a la Man in Black hangs from the mirror alongside a flowered lei air freshener. The backseat currently has one of the wool blankets on it to hide the dog hair and while the doggie car-seats are momentarily in the garage they often take up the back, complete with pugs upon them. The rear of the car sports a host of bumper stickers – one from Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury, Vt. Another proclaiming “I work hard so my pugs don’t have to,” and a bright yellow and red one declaring “Thank God for Hana.” I often lose the magnetic ones when I drive through a carwash and forget to take them off, so I frequently have to replenish.
It is not unusual to find a dufflel bag of clothing in the trunk, complete with dog clothes I can don when I’m at Joan’s and heavy boots and coat to temper the frigid weather there. A brown, leather satchel with digital recorder, tape cassettes, writing assignments and interview notes, sits on the passenger seat floor next to the black-and-white Holstein patterned trash bag. My navy blue Swiss Army computer bag containing my Mac and I-pad typically rides along and on the days I teach a wheeled case of books and student papers.
My CD player holds the latest Brandi Carlisle CD, which I alternate with a mix of worship songs we sing when I am in Hana. My car doors hold other choices including Aerosmith, Avett Brothers, and U2. My radio is pre-programmed to VPR and The Point.
I don’t consider my car my home, but it is where I spend the most time. I find my home with my friends and family – my year-old niece jubilantly exclaiming “Ball” and “Dog,” with the students I teach so eager to discuss their work, with my friend Joan and all her pugs, over tea with my friend Kathleen, at the newest independent movie with my friend Sheila. I long for a place to unpack my stuff, hang up my art, showoff the pottery. I crave a physical place to call home, but what I hope my car and its belongings say about me is that I’m doing fine just the same. I may not have my own place, but I have an active life and home is with those I love.
That is not to say I’m not keeping my options open. I’ve been eyeing some communities in which to live, still consider house plans, and look at ways to expand the bankroll. And, my friends and family are always willing to help out. I was sharing with my mother a photoblog I stumbled upon the other night called www.rowdykittens.com. The author/photographer makes her home in a tiny Tumbleweed house on wheels. I have written articles about tiny houses and my Mom is always on the lookout for the perfect one for me. Even my students and friends have sent suggestions and posted links to possibilities. Today, Mom forwarded me another. Here, is the link to her latest idea. I am not turning my nose up at anything that has the words “My Home” attached to it, but honestly, this one presently leaves me speechless.
Writing Prompt: What do you call home?