When I was little I imagined a map pinned on my wall with a pin stuck in my hometown. From that I imagined a line drawn to every place I had been. Around my home would be a dense thicket of lines: home to school, home to nearby stores, home to my grandparents' house; then lines extending further: to my other grandparents' house, to vacation spots we had been. All lines eventually led home.
Now the lines have extended further and they do not lead home; or, they lead to my new home. The lines extend metaphorically as well, away from what my home held, which was a kind of security, which came from parents and familiarity. Home was an imperfect, but nearly perfect, place. This new home I have and share is less imperfect, because it is of my choice, but my occasional shudder or shiver of fear reminds me of what is missing, which is that familiarity, a sense of place, and even the safety which my parents once offered.
Sense of place is important. I remember Becky telling me about a book she had read, about "finding your place." We were were in a room in her parents' house at the time, it seems like it was a screened-in back porch. She had me walk around the room—finding my place. I had a vague sense of what she was after and searched for my place. I also sensed it was a kind of seeking which was not my kind of seeking, that it was silliness. I became tired of the searching, of Becky's dramatic nature. I became frustrated and maybe a little petulant. I sat down, and, of course, that was my place.
This is my place. But, without the security of my parent's home, life is a little uncertain. Children may question purpose, the purpose of obeying rules, of going to school, of life; but they, or most, know there is purpose even if they can't see it or agree with it. It becomes harder to kid oneself as an adult. Purpose is what you assign it to be. If you assign it little meaning you are casting yourself adrift. It may not be a choice. Some have an ability to have faith, others cannot have faith. Without faith there is either certainty or doubt. Or, maybe some of each, but it is a shakey foundation. It is also case dependent. If things are going well, faith seems contrived. When more dire circumstances arise, faith swells into a meaningful presence. Faith in what? A child's faith in their parents? Faith in something taught along the way in a formal, religious way? Faith in what is experienced? Faith in dawn?
The lines have extended, for me, across the country. A few lines extent beyond the country's borders to other countries. I would think that would comforting, or even exciting. It isn't. It only reminds me that life is a lonely place to be, that home is distantly in the past, that parents are gone, that security is temporary at best, a myth.
I walk by a church each morning on the way to work. It is a Korean church, I don't know what denomination. The lure of sanctuary often rises as I near, and fades as I pass. The lure is real, and the fading emptiness is real. The reality of isolation returns: another day with nothing more than my wits to get by. I am not that witful.
Marketa, who is more substantial than I am in every way, doesn't doubt. If she doesn't have doubt she must have faith, yet I see no evidence of it. She has competence. She has priorities. She has ability. What flusters me leaves her unflustered. What is the center of her confidence? English is her second language, and sometimes she lacks the vocabulary to express herself, though, her thoughts are not as mine. If she had the words I'm not sure she could convey answers to my questions. They might not make sense to her. Her confidence obviates those questions—though that can't be true, everyone questions.
Her line, the one that brought her here, extends almost half way around the world. It takes a large map. She is far from her hometown, her parents, her childhood, her family, her familiar. Where is her insecurity? In truth, I try to hide thoughts of this nature from her. I don't want my sometimes quaking interior to infiltrate and contaminate hers. I want her pure. I want to take refuge in her. I want to enter her sanctuary.
The end of this particular line, my line, leads to this city, to this neighborhood, to this apartment, to this person. It seems that I do have faith after all, in her, and maybe faith for some, for me, can't quite push away the doubt, or is it fear?
These are pre-dawn thoughts. She is asleep. I am sitting in the waning dark having tea and writing. It is a little chilly. I am trembling just a bit. I'm beginning to ready myself for another day. I take a deep breath and exhale—breathe, I say. Relax. In a few minutes I will get out my exercise mat, stretch and do the exercises I do most mornings. Then, get ready for work and share a few minutes with Marketa as she gets ready for work. Then, leave the sanctuary, walk past the sanctuary, arrive at a destination that seems entirely arbitrary, but offers sanctuary of its own, and so on—a little line to work from home. Later in the day I will reverse the path.
All lines lead home.
Poetry by one trick pony
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Written on 2019-06-10 at 13:03
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