Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Coffee

Where is Home?
We are in, but not quite ensconced. There are still more books than we have room for (and that is after giving eighteen shopping bags of books to Goodwill). There are still more clothes than closet space. Two and a half years ago we moved from a large house to a smaller house, now we have moved from a house to a two bedroom apartment: if we keep moving every two years, maybe I will really get rid of all the junk I've accumulated.

Here's an irony:  as I was packing up my books, I came across multiple books on organization. Most of these books are in pristine condition. Then there were the books on simplicity and living the simple life. Easier said than done. We don't own stuff, stuff owns us. Giving away great big bags of clothing and books, pitching years worth of old paperwork, putting aside all those extra dishes to sell: it feels great, as if a great burden were being lifted. I wish I had the courage and the stamina to do more. This is where I have a conflict: I love my books, I'm attached to my books, my books have significance to me. But there is a point where your possessions become a burden, and ownership interferes with life, and the enjoyment of life. 
Having to move your own possessions can really make you feel the burden. It all took much longer than I had thought it would. We were only moving a distance of about five miles; I rented a U Haul Truck and bought a whole bunch of black plastic garbage bags ( a great idea until you are staring at a mound of them, wondering what's inside). As we made trips back and forth, the concept of home shifted. Home became "the house" and "the apartment" became home. Just like that.

I have my little desk set up next to the sliding glass door to the deck, and I can smell Jasmine in full flower wafting in on the breeze. The Pomeranian feels compelled to bark at every passerby, a reflex I hope will wane.After days of torrential rain, the weather is gorgeous: sunny, warm, temperatures in the 70's. Too bad we have to go back to school tomorrow, because I would love just one day to walk on the beach. We moved during Spring Break, and I don't know how we would have managed it in less than a week. Our new place will soon be our comfortable home, with everything just so, and belongings where we can find them. I will get back to a regular reviewing and posting schedule, and probably keep accumulating books (and giving books away).

One benefit of packing and unpacking all those books was rediscovering what was already in my home library. I picked up Ann Hood's An Ornithologist's Guide to Life and was immersed in minutes. I'm already about halfway through the book (okay, so I took a couple of little breaks from unpacking). I love short story collections, and own many that I haven't read.  It's just the thing for a time when you can't devote yourself to long stretches of reading.

It's about time I put my head into my school books. I'm really happy to be home now, and looking forward to getting back to reading and reviewing more regularly. Here's a parting question for you Gentle Readers: What is Home? Discuss below....


Felicia said...

Home is where the family is. Family being the spouse and kid. Being a former military brat and now being married to a business man whose company transfers I feel like an authority on the matter. I learned from my mother that being with family is important and that you don't need a yard necessarily to make a home. A true friend will be your friend whether you're a mile up the road or in a different region.

It's funny that ever so often I get that gypsy feeling, like it's time to go. I've felt that way the past year actually.

bibliophiliac said...

@Felicia-the whole housing market collapse, terrible economy, etc. have made me re-think the American Dream of home ownership and the house with the yard. Now I'm trying to simplify and pare down as much as possible. There's something to be said for being able to pick up and go if you want or need to.

Robyn Ryle said...

Ugh, moving is so horrific. I feel your pain. When we moved my husband out of his old house and into our house, there was so much stuff that had just been tossed in the basement. We resolved never to have a place where junk just gets tossed, though I fear our garage is becoming that space. You're absolutely right that stuff comes to own us.

BookQuoter said...

Home is where you are free to do what you want, go outside and smell the flowers, wake up and have Sunday coffee and read a book whenever you feel like... so you are definitely home.

Mayowa said...

Glad you're moved all moved in, Lisa. Hope it wasn't too tiring. Eighteen bags of books eh? I have a feeling I should be very jealous of your book collection lol.

Home...hrrmphh. I'm not sure I really have one anymore. Went of to boarding school at age 10, haven't spent more than 3 months at a go in my father's house since. Haven't lived in Nigeria in 8 years. And now I avoid accumulating things because I want to be able pick up and go when the time to move comes, as it does inevitably. So yeah...all sorts of issues there hehe

Glad the cleaning out process was cathartic, settle in, get comfortable.

Lisa said...

My parents have live in their house for 43 years, since I was not yet 8 years old. To an extent, that is still "home" to me. We have lived in our current house for 15 years and it is definitely home. But in both of those cases it is primarily because of all of the memories in those places, but they are memories of times we have spent as a family. It would be hard for me to move at this point because it would be the first place that we had lived where my oldest didn't live with us; I'm not sure how much live "home" a new place would ever feel to him. But the house is just a building, and you're right, if we moved we'd soon make memories there, we'd still have the things that mattered most to us.

Ann Summerville said...

What a lovely post. I went through a period when I moved every two or three years but have now been in the same house for nearly 20 years and I desperately need to get rid of stuff that "I might need one day!"

Kerry said...

Love this post. When I moved into my last apartment in NY, I posted a Facebook album called "The Various Meanings of Home". It was a whim at the time, but it contained pictures from the month of July: my old apartment before we moved, the new apartment I'd moved into, a visit to my mom's house, a night on my stepdad's boat for dinner, a visit to my dad's house, a visit to my dad's sailboat. All of those places are home to me. And now I've moved from a 400 sq. ft. apartment in NYC to a three-story townhouse in Maryland, and my stuff is already taking over. Must. Pare. Down.

I'm just about to start a book called "Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House," which seems a fitting title for a post like this. There's always some kind of house envy, isn't there? Whether it be for larger or smaller, louder or quieter, more urban or more remote?