I’ve been reading a lot of Jeanette Winterson. I only discovered her in the past year, but she has quickly become one of my favorite authors. She writes how I imagine I would write, if I ever published. A part of me wishes I had discovered her sooner, but who’s to say I would have appreciated her as much before I found my own voice as a writer. Something strong and audible that I can hear above the rest of the noise in my head.
In her memoir, Why be normal when you could be happy, she discusses throughout her concept of home and identity: A nomadic people learn to take their homes with them — and the familiar objects are spread out or re-erected from place to place. When we move house, we take with us the invisible concept of home – but it is a very powerful concept. Mental health and emotional continuity do not require us to stay in the same house or the same place, but they do require a sturdy structure on the inside – and that structure is built in part by what has happened on the outside. The inside and the outside of our lives are each the shell where we learn to live…Sometimes you have to live in precarious and temporary places. Unsuitable places. Wrong places. Sometimes the safe place won’t help you.
I think about the blurry shaky lines of my homes growing up. I think about the structure I built for myself. I think about the way I taught myself to rely, to love, to expect. I think about the escape I couldn’t quite commit to. What is it to believe in continuity? I know now after almost 30 years in this body what it is to feel solid. Like I finally fit. Like my inner and my outer match up. Like Goldilocks and the perfect bed. Like Peter Pan and his shadow.