catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 8 :: 2008.04.18 — 2008.05.02


Feels like home

Throughout various transitions in my life, I have been able to meet and come to know many different people.  However, even upon the most basic of introductions, my reply to the question of where I come from has been one that I have never quite known how best to answer. Including college transitions, I have moved 19 times in my life within the United States and Europe. I was born in Chicago, but since the first move when I was ten months old, my only returns have been to the O’Hare airport during connecting flights. Many fears in my life have been aroused and quieted as a result from having moved so frequently.

The first move I vaguely recall was when I was about 3 ½ years old. My family was living in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and getting ready to move to England. My mother was busy writing ads and answering phone calls concerning the selling of the appliances, cars and furniture that we needed to leave behind, including our heinous brown and orange couch that I loved so much. I recall people coming into my house and taking things away that were now rightfully theirs, including this couch that in my few years had always been there for me to rest on. I had no idea why this was happening. One by one, our things were being carried away as I was getting carried away with fear. My mother tells me that I began to cry, and when she comfortingly asked what was wrong, I replied sobbing, “I’m afraid that when they come to pick up the house they might drop it on me.”

Here I am, 19 moves later, and rest assured I have not yet had a house dropped on me.  And yet, while this particular fear was short-lived, many other anxieties have reared their ugly heads. I would like to conclude that after having moved so many times, and after having changed schools so frequently, I am considerably well-adaptable and eager for change. But when I examine the evidence of how I manage such transitions, I realize that for me, despite my love for the adventures of traveling, in many ways, I greatly prefer a consistent living environment.

Like many children, my parents encouraged me to be involved in activities like swimming or softball. However, moving away, combined with my lack coordination, brought an end to many such activities. Art, on the other hand is something that I was able to take with me regardless of where we moved. It was always something with which I identified. I’ve been able to depend on it, and lean on it, while many of my other schooling experiences have resulted in an inconsistent learning environment. Looking back, I recognize the fragmented nature of what I was taught from year to year as I transitioned from one school to another. In some ways I feel this fragmentation has caused me to make some different learning connections of my own. Many friends have lovingly pointed out that my methods of problem solving are a bit backward when I go about any given task.



As I considered the inconsistencies in my life, I naturally created art in response. I began producing patterns from the borders of each area in which I have lived, thus creating a consistency from that which has been ever-changing. Pattern and repetition denote predictability. As pattern builds anticipation for what will happen next, it provides a sense of security or preparedness. I traced each of these patterns and shapes with a resist bottle onto silk and painted each in with dye. I then assembled and sewed the pieces together to create the tent form, uniting these places to establish a single living space and identifying home-ness in a sense. The color pallet for each shape is specific to the particular area of which I lived, produced either by memory or family photographs. My life has been colored by many different experiences. As I reflect on each pattern, created from the borders of each area in which I have lived, I think of the shapes of the places that have shaped me. Part of my effort in creating this piece has been to unite all of the places I have once called “home” and to establish a single dwelling space.

As a child, I created couch-cushioned and fabric-draped habitats for myself, establishing a temporary territory, uniquely mine, in which I felt secure.  Moving has provided a different kind of stability in which I can be grounded. I have come to understand that stability is not based on the foundation of a house, or the location of a hometown, but within the network of a family.  Throughout our many journeying transition between counties, states, countries and cultures, my family has been my anchor throughout life's transitions. This art piece for me was about finding that permanence regardless of the inconsistency of location.

The tent, though provisional, and a symbol of the temporary, provides a place of rest and familiarity. It is a fortress providing refuge and some trust from an often cold and dangerous world. As I fashioned this tent, I sought to make it appear as though it were hovering above the floor, signifying my feeling of often being adrift and floating. The light at center of this tent is steadfast, all-illuminating, warm and comforting, serving to address the importance and implications of the interior.



In many ways, this art piece has helped me to recognize all the more how incredibly blessed I am. As Psalm 16:6 pronounces, “The boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” Truly, I am very thankful for these experiences. I have had the privilege of living many places people dream about visiting. But what I am more thankful for is the fact that I have never had to worry about having a safe place wherever I may find myself. Many in this world are on the run in search for refuge, or fleeing from a home that they have known.

Having no clue where the road leads from here, I often feel that I am destined to live as a nomad, especially as I am not accustomed to staying in any place longer than three years. As much as I would like to establish deep roots in one area that I might call home, I am not at a point in my life that I am ready or willing to do so. Perhaps someday this will happen, but I suppose I will remain a bit adrift in the meantime. Maybe someday I will establish a more permanent home for myself, retire from a nomadic lifestyle and settle down that I might set up a place for others to wander into on their journeys.

Through my many living spaces God has shown me that in this world it is okay to not identify with one area as home. Ultimately my home is in His Kingdom, and He is my ultimate source of safety and security.

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