Friday, October 16, 2009

Clicking my ruby slippers

I wander city streets after dark
and stare in windows of houses
where light is golden and
families gather
tables set for dinner
but I have no home
where I can burst in the door
pull up a chair
for love
Home. A word that is as individual to each of us as our fingerprints.
Charles Dickens wrote in MARTIN CHUZZZLEWIT: Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.
This painting, "No Place Like Home," by Darlene Campbell is a wry commentary on the subject of home. Her oil-and-gold-leaf-on-wood paintings look like religious icons and evoke Renaissance art with their glowing light and heavenly skies. But her images are contemporary, depicting landscapes rapidly altered by development of cookie-cutter neighborhoods and trophy houses. (Note: I shot this photo by placing the painting against wood and didn't get as tight as I should have--the painting ends with the gold leaf.)
The philosopher Gaston Bachelard said, If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.
I like the notion of a place that protects the dreamer, the writer, the artist--a place that is more than simple shelter or flashy showcase. I'm not sure if I ever really found the home I was searching for, but I believe I have a peaceful place to dream. What about you? How do you define home? It's very late and I'm not sure what I've rambled on about. Here's hoping it makes sense.


storyqueen said...

The Dickens quote is awesome! "Conjuration." Perhaps on the top ten list of cool words.

I, too, love the concept of home being the place to protect the dreamer. I guess the parent in my hopes that I provide that for the kids....

As for my own dream space, I think I have to carry it with me.

Robyn Campbell said...

Makes a lot of sense. I think to me home is where the heart it. And I know, I know that is a silly old phrase, but when I am home, here on the farm I'm safe, at peace, and IN MY COMFY pants. So it really is where your heart is. I have left pieces of my heart where I feel the most at peace. In those places, that is where home is for me. It may be half way around the world from my actual home, but if my heart is there, it is home to me. Okay, did I just ramble? Yikes.

I want to leave a part of my heart in Ireland. And I will someday. :)

Linda Kage said...

Did you know... Dorothy's ruby's slippers were really Silver in the book? I started reading L. Frank Baum the other week to my baby and was aghast to learn their orignal color. OK, sorry about that. I'm in a trivia mood today.

Anyway, my sister gave me a plaque once that said, "Home is where the heart is." And I believe that totally. There's no better place on earth than home.

Thanks for your wonderful blog.

MG Higgins said...

First of all, I LOVE that painting. We must have similar tastes in art.

Home is such a powerful concept for me; in fact, every novel I've written has some element of finding "home" (whether physical or metaphysical). I've yet to define it for myself and maybe that's why I explore it in my writing.

Beautiful post. You made perfect sense!

Natalie said...

What an interesting painting. I love when artists make a statement like that. Home for me is children, family, a place to snuggle into and be protected from storms (both literal and figurative).

Bish Denham said...

Beautiful painting.

For me Pliny the Elder said it the simplest: Home is where the heart is. In traveling and living in different places I learned to take my heart with me so I wouldn't get homesick.

Home is where I am and with the people who share my life intimately. It is not so much a place as a state of mind, a state of being.

Unknown said...

Hi Tricia! Lovely post. Thanks for finding my blog. I'm going to follow you and look for book recommendations, since we seem to have the same taste.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Shelley: Isn't that the coolest word??? And I love that you try to create that place for your kids. That is awesome.

Robyn: With a heart big as yours home is in good hands. Someday you will make that Ireland trip and it will be all you dreamed of.

Linda: I saw your blog! You did trivia double-time. Too cool. What a lovely thought--no better place on earth..

Melissa: Is not that painting incredible? To think I bought it and can watch it glow is amazing to me. I think I also explore the concept of home in my writing. It's at my core.

Natalie: It's what I love about art--that it can be stunning and meaningful. Shelter from storms is a good definition for home.

Bish: Wow, I love the idea of carrying home with you as a state of mind. Thank you.

Lisa: Welcome! I sometimes rave about books I love but don't do reviews. I cut out my list on the profile page because it went on forever, but maybe I should put a few back in. In fact, my profile page needs a make-over.

Winter Hansen said...

Tricia, I love it that your blog is about the power of home. It often comes to me when I'm writing- that moment when I ask myself what the character is looking for; home is often the answer. Not just four walls and the smell of fresh baked bread, but the tangible feeling that you are where you belong. Thanks for the insight! I think for me it might be the Valley of Glencoe in Scotland. Divinely gorgeous.
Also belated thanks for your comment on my blog.

Unknown said...

You always make sense! Beautiful sense.

Home is where Bill is. My husband. Even when he doesn't like me. His arms are home.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Winter: 'That you are where you belong'--beautiful. I love that.

Suzanne: Your writing about Bill and home truly do make the ordinary extraordinary, you know. Thanks, as always, for coming by.

I Wonder Wye said...

A house is much different than a 'home' and many design articles mistakenly say 'home' when they should read 'house.' For the reasons you allude to, a home is Sanctuary -- refuge -- a safe place from a sharp or indifferent world, be it a refuge you dwell in alone, or share with a human or animal companion or companions.......

Sybel said...

How can my students dream when they are homeless?

One great guy was living with his family in their car at graduation in June. He graduated with college credits, so all is not lost, but it's so hard. A young woman asked for help writing a letter to her parents' mortage company. I just read an essay from a young man whose family is losing their house. I try to keep his dreams alive, but it's so hard!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wonder Wye: Welcome! I checked out your blog and was astounded that you have wild mustangs. That's something out of my childhood dreams. Thanks for your thoughts on home/house. Quite right.

Sybel: Oh, that is too sad. :( I am sorry to hear you have so many students with home problems. Hanging on to dreams is hard when the world is so unstable.

Laura Canon said...

This post spotlighted for me my ambiguity about "cookie cutter" suburbs. I live in one myself. They are a blight, sometimes, and yet my memories of growing up in one are very close to my heart, and certain sights, like the windows of people's houses glowing at night, Christmas lights, the sun glowing on the grass, the smell of cut lawns in the summer, can move me very strongly. I thing that's a great thing for your artist to do...spotlight what home means.