Kissing the Earth: The Landscape of Home Away From Home
From: Kissing the Earth
July 26, 2012 at 12:01AM
I’ve just returned to San Francisco after spending an amazing five days with some of my dearest writer friends at the VCFA alumni weekend and then a delightful time in New York visiting my younger daughter Zoe who is working and interning for the summer in Manhattan before returning for her senior year at Sarah Lawrence.
For me, travel seems to open my heart and mind to other lives while expanding my sense of potential and possibility. I always love imagining myself, another version of myself, living in the places I visit. The contrast from Montpelier, Vermont to New York City stretches to both ends of the spectrum from my life in San Francisco, allowing me to construct two very different imaginary lives over the period of ten days!
Something I always do when I’m away from home, is to find ‘my house’—the house where I would, in my imaginary life, reside. I have virtual parallel lives and houses on several continents; a house in Buenos Aires, a house in Santa Fe, a house in Paris. My house in Montpelier is a charmingly tiny brick coach house, not much bigger than a child’s playhouse, where I could imagine myself as a quirky, arty spinster inviting my favorite writers to tea and making dolls to hand out as muses.
I discovered my favorite house (where the imagined famous writer version of myself lives and writes sweeping best seller sagas whispered to me by the ghosts who walk the moors) while on a family vacation driving through Dartmoor. We were in search of a Celtic stone circle from a postcard I’d purchased in Moretonhamstaed, driving, windows down, listening to the wind hush through the trees. Dragonflies zipped and hovered over grazing moor-ponies and sheep.
And then there it was—the stone house that I silently but immediately recognized as my house. Time passed as we continued down the narrow road, until my husband turned to me and said, “Wasn’t that ‘your house?’”
“Yes!” I said. “It was!” He made a wide u-turn in the middle of the road, circling back. When I got out to take a photo, the owner came out and told us all about the house—how he and his wife and children were there on sabbatical—she was an architect, he a historian. He seemed very open to having my imaginary self move in when they went back to London the next year.
Now, if this all sounds pretty indulgent, consider the value of the exercise for housing fictional characters. We all have to live someplace, whether in real life, imaginary life or in fiction and sometimes the boundaries are thinner than you might think.
Take Good Care,