UPDATE after the hurricane: I was very lucky and my home was fine. There were just a few trees down. I did some clean up then helped neighbors and friends with their cleanup. Then we all made endless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to distribute along with Gatorade to the many utility workers in the area. Thanks to these teams of out of state workers electricity came back on pretty quickly.
As I await the arrival of Hurricane Irma which will quite possibly wipe out the new home I built about 19 months ago, I can’t help but ponder the question, what, for me, is “home?” What is required for me to feel at home? What “things” do I need? How much of what I will lose should be replaced or simply forgotten? Can I live with less?
As a kid my family moved just every four years so when people ask me where I’m from and where I grew up it’s a somewhat complicated answer. I have never really had a hometown to return to. I had a wonderful temporary “home” for four years at Ohio University where I did my undergraduate degree. Then I moved to New York City and had my longest home (38 years), although I moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan and within Manhattan a number of times. I had the best home of my life in Manhattan for 23 years with my late husband. That was probably the closest thing to any permanent home I’ve ever had. And it felt great. Alas, it didn’t last due to Jack’s illness and death. But the memory of that home and its comfort caused me to leave Manhattan two years ago and move down to Florida to build what has turned out to be a dream home. From this home base I have continued to travel and take photographs. I always feel like I am returning to an amazing oasis each time I come back from traveling. There I edit photos, interact with my wonderful neighbors, swim, bicycle, take long walks and enjoy the peace that my trees and beautiful surroundings bring me. Thinking about losing this home is, as I’m sure it is for all Floridians tonight, a very sad prospect. Starting over somewhere new is also a daunting idea. I travel so much that sometimes I find myself feeling at home each time I check into the reassuring uniformity of a Holiday Inn Express on the road. Not having my oasis and wonderful neighbors would be a huge loss for me at this stage of my life. With much difficulty I was able to rebuild my life after my husband died. Now I can’t think of what I’ll do if I lose everything and have to start over. Last week I watched in disbelief as people in Houston lost everything and now it is my turn.
Home may be on the road for awhile. I packed up my Rav4 Hybrid with as much as I could before driving north and out of the danger. My computer, RAID drives and photography gear are essential for me to feel at “home” and continue my work anywhere. Little by little I hope to be able to let go of all the things I may lose in the hurricane. Thanks to everyone who has sent me emails and messages of love and support. They are truly appreciated.
(Sorry about all the typos! I was pretty upset when I wrote this. I think I have corrected them now.)