Home

by Megg on August 11, 2017

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The street I live on turns to dirt past the vacant lot next door. Everyday, from beyond the trees and trailers, I hear peacocks lamenting in the thick air of morning. The whole place sizzles with the sounds of cicadas and countless other insects, while the dull clatter of traffic bellows in from the nearby interstate. My toes stick together from the sap of pine fronds as I sweep them off the porch.

A year ago crowds were just starting to gather in Standing Rock. Each day was exciting and exhausting, a great unknown continually answered while new questions were posed. After a month and a half of relative quiet, in the hot, dense Dakota sun, this influx was daunting (even if it was exactly what we’d prayed for). I remember at night, if you tuned out your thoughts, you would hear a constant, high-pitched squeal: the collective chorus of all the little bugs. I didn’t exactly miss this sound once it was replaced with songs, hushed chatter, and steady drums.

home - logan square mural

Home is a funny concept. It’s only now, as an adult revisiting the places of my childhood, that I recognize them as a home. Back then I just wanted to leave, but now I am comforted by the things that are just so… Illinois. The familiarity of the trees, the birds, the smell of the city, the accent, the lake, the color of the soil… I can’t argue with all that. It’s the place that raised me.

Moon 10-15-16

 

Standing Rock feels like home because I lived there more intently than any other place, even if I’d never planned to go there. Living outside has a profound effect: you start to meld into your environment. Nothing binds one to a place so well as cooling yourself in the river on another sweltering day; or being pummeled by rain as you untie tangled cords, brimming with anticipation; or fighting the winds of a blizzard to secure a yurt, knee deep in snow; or walking clear across the river once it’s frozen solid, surprised though the locals told you this was going to happen. Standing Rock shaped me more than I ever could have anticipated, and I still reel from all the transformation.

And southwestern Louisiana feels like home, because everyone knows my name, and I’ve seen the fields of rice and crawfish ponds in every season now. Vowels get longer in my mouth, and the melodies of the songs are familiar (even if I don’t yet grasp much of the French they’re sung in). Still, it’s new enough to stun me, as I drive down a dirt road, slowing for a flutter of massive whooping cranes and roseate spoonbills. The glossy leaves of undeniably tropical plants. The way it rains; the way it floods. The muscle of nature and the failures of man. Roux, crawfish, rice, cayenne. Venturing out on any given night to hear my friends play music with expertise and intangible joy.

It’s daunting to have chosen a place; like choosing a sculptor to whittle me away into the next thing. And it is odder still to settle in after years of decidedly temporary homes, with all their names and views and characters. I’ve been having a hard time with it, to be honest. But just a few days ago I started sitting outside like this every morning, letting the air stick to me, learning the unfamiliar dialects of the songbirds, sipping coffee, watching. Quietly succumbing to home. 

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