Thursday, October 03, 2013

October Memoir Challenge Two

The following is the second of 15 blog posts I'll--fingers crossed--be posting in the month of November as part of the October Memoir Challenge(And once again this is a day late because I saved this as a draft rather than publishing it so I am post-dating it with apologies.)
Home(noun)
The place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household
(adjective)
Of or relating to the place where one lives.
(adverb)
To or at the place where one lives.
Definition found here.
I’ve been writing about our honeymoon.  Rob and I went to New York City because, while I had seen the town and home in which Rob had grown up (Owensboro, Kentucky), he had never seen where I had grown up (Manhattan).   I showed him what is and what was, like the art supply store in Greenwich Village that is now a McDonald’s (“We don’t eat at that McDonald’s because they killed art.”) even as I struggled to remember which building I lived in on East 79th street (although I remembered clearly that the DSW used to be the same Woolworth’s about which Patricia Volk writes in her memoir Shocked).

While Rob kept trying to refer to his app downloads to lead us through neighborhoods and even museums.  Only when we would be all turned around would he defer to my saying, “We go this way.”  Getting off the subway, emerging onto the street, I would look from one corner to the other, left then right, before announcing where we needed to go.  By the end of the trip, Rob began to understand that uptown meant going north and downtown south and that you could navigate Central Park by paying attention to where the sun is when you couldn’t see any buildings and then use the buildings to your left or right or straight ahead when you could to reach any landmark you sought. 

So within the sometimes confusion I experienced of what was versus what is, I started to realize that there was something innately rooted in my heart.  It didn’t matter that the Egyptian and American Wings of the Metropolitan Museum of Art had been renovated and redesigned in my lifetime, I knew this museum the way some would know the back yard of their childhood home.  As I walked to the store, my pace felt natural (even though I would occasionally bobble as though I were drunk).  And there, in that hotel within walking distance of a library, a laundromat, a dry cleaners, a drug store, a supermarket, two bookstores, I realized that my definition of home was different from the limits of the dictionary.

I wasn’t until I was walking to meet my step-sister Janice that I had the epiphany.  I didn’t have enough permanency to think of one place as my childhood home and I had lived in several neighborhoods where simple stores turn into fast-food stores so how could I narrow down my childhood home as a “place where one lives” when I had lived in many places but mostly in this one amazing city where I mistook cathedrals for museums and saw Broadway shows and ballets with stars that others would only ever see on a screen? 

I don’t have a childhood home; I have a whole city that is my home.  No matter how much it changes or how hard it is to awaken a memory of an apartment building I lived in for only a few months, I felt more at home living out of a hotel for a few days than I have living for the past few decades in Georgia and it’s no wonder that I get homesick for Manhattan—for the streets and the transportation and the noise and the smells and for the very energy that I know only as home.

3 comments:

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    1. Amber, I wouldn't go quite so far when praising my own writing but your appreciation is much appreciated. Thank you!

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  2. Wonderful. I visited Manhattan last summer and thoroughly enjoyed the visit. It's a city that gets under your skin -- in a good way. Thanks for bringing back my own memories of my time there.

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