Monday, April 12, 2010


What is home to you? A house, car, yurt, women's shelter? Is there no place like home? What shelters you from the storm? How does a place become a home?

HipMama is soliciting articles that address these questions. That, and the fact that we've made the decision to stay in our home here in the US, has made me think a lot lately about how much home means to me now that I've become a mama.

I was a college student when I came over from Norway and the breathing room I attained by leaving my native country was intoxicating fresh air to me. Whenever friends in Norway would ask, "so are you going to stay then over there?" or "when are you moving back?" I always refused to respond. I refused choosing one, insisting my world felt bigger with a foot in each camp, so to speak, straddling the Atlantic Ocean.

Throughout grad school and my first years as a college professor, I ended up moving every year. Eventually came the need for a sanctuary, and I bought my current home.

But I continued to embrace my postmodern right to have home not be confined to one place.

Then came my daughter Lilly. The first year or so, I still imagined I could pursue a bohemian lifestyle, on the road, now no longer an academic, but a freelance writer: even freer to move around! My husband and I dreamed of a life as writers floating around in the Mediterranean, supported by writing grants and royalties. Perhaps using Norway as our home base, safe with its social welfare benefits, close to continental Europe. We spent Lilly's first year of life in Oslo, Norway, my husband pursuing a higher degree in dramatic literature to supplement his degree in playwriting, me taking care of Lilly and writing whenever she napped.

The summer she turned one, we lived in the Cyclades, a Greek island group in the Aegean sea.

We returned to the US last fall, thinking we'd sell our house here and move to Europe. But seeing how depressing the realty market is, we decided to wait till spring. By then, my body was seriously beginning to resist a move; it wanted to stay; it craved the sanctuary of home, friends, community; it wanted healthy roots.

So we decided to stay, do our best to make a living for ourselves here.

And in that spirit, I've finally picked up gardening. I've always loved the idea, but it's remained that, an idea. This weekend I hauled away old wood chips, rotten tarp, dug up the earth, picked away rocks. I have so much to learn, but instead of just talking about it, I'm actually beginning to do something.

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