I have my fingers on home row. I'm back in seventh grade and I have my fingers on home row and I'm in junior high, practicing typing on a manual typewriter in Mr Has-Nasal-Voice-And-No-Sense-Of-Humor-With-Short-Sleeved-Dress-Shirt. Excruciating. Typing is in the portables, to boot; outdoor mobile-home classrooms because there isn't enough room in the main building of our junior high, and when you walk into the portables you can push on the walls and they move, and it feels like the floor is going to collapse, and it's too hot or too cold, and you can smell the stoners' cigarette smoke coming in through the cracks since they hang out behind the school to smoke and that's where the portables are.
Home row. Home. What is home?
Now, twenty-six years after putting my fingers on home row in the portables my sister Beth is reading a bedtime story to our daughters. It's The Giving Tree.
"I don't need very much now," said the boy, "just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired."
"Well," said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, "well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest."
And the tree was happy.
The tree was home for the boy.
My ex-boyfriend Tom gave me that book twenty-one years ago in my dorm room at the University of Washington. That room was home for nine months.
My parents' house, where my sister is reading to our daughters right now, is home.
Our two-flat in Chicago is home. A divorced guy with glasses and a thirteen-year-old daughter put an offer on it today. We were advised to accept the offer, and we probably will. First I asked our agent Jane, "Do you like him?" She said yes. She asked me if I would sell our house if it was an asshole offering over the asking price. Hypothetically. I said no, no, no. She laughed.
Home for me has been a rented white house with bees nests and mice and squalor and camaraderie with three other women, a loft apartment in an old bicycle factory, a walk-up across from some guys in a band called Pigface and a first-floor apartment with the smell of gas and bugs living in the bathroom light fixture.
Home for the past nine years has been our two-flat, along with the Charleston Tavern, and now my heart is breaking because we're selling it and moving.
Our new house is in Seattle, close to my sister and my niece and my parents and some very good friends. I'm sure someday I'll look at it and call it home, but right now it feels like someone else's.