Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"A House is a House for Me"

When I was in elementary school, each week we had "specials" ~ art, music, physical education, and library. Library was by far my favorite, and of course, the one that we only had once a week. I loved going into the library where Miss L. would be there, the librarian, this lovely grandmotherly type lady who could always help me find the right book.

(I was so sad when Miss L. retired because of health problems just before my last year of elementary school. In a twist of fate, we became co-workers when I began working at our public library while in high school. All the other student workers could call her by her first name, but I could never call her anything other than Miss L. Memories of her are some of my best.)

During library time, we would often have a story read to us and then do some sort of activity related to the book. For some reason, one in particular stands out in my memory. I'm guessing it was from lower elementary years, but I can't be sure. I recall Miss L. reading us a book entitled A House is a House for Me. I can even picture the book ~ a light green border on the cover, pages with pen-line drawings which appeared to be filled in with colored pencils. From what I can remember of the book, the catch-phrase was "a house is a house for me" which followed a description of what were houses for others, like "a nest is a home for a bird" and other such things. The activity that went with this book was to create our own page for a book using the phrase "a blank is a home for a blank" and then draw a picture to go with it. I wrote, "a neck is a home for a necklace" and drew (not very well) a neck that filled up the whole sheet of construction paper with a necklace drawn to represent the pink heart-shaped prism charm on a necklace that my neighbor had given me as a gift along with the book Pollyanna.

Why is it that this particular book and activity stands out in my memory? When there were so many many weeks and so many many books, why this?

I think there is something about these words that are so important, maybe especially so right now. The book title is about houses, but the sentence I wrote is about a home. "A house is a house for me." Yes, that's the easy part. I am blessed to live in a beautiful house with a beautiful yard, but what about home?

Does where I live feel like home? Some days, but not everyday and maybe not even most days. Because home is greater than the dwelling in which I live, though the dwelling is part of it. Home is also my family, my workplace, my community. And even then, what makes a place home?

Home is a place where I can be me, fully and completely. I sometimes feel like I have given up so much of me that no place is home. And that's not really fair, because my husband hasn't asked me to change or be something I'm not. But at the same time, if I want to spend time with him or do things with him, I've had to learn to do (or at least tolerate in some cases) activities that I wouldn't normally do. And I can't seem to see where he's had to change--other than the change of having to put up with me, which is a tall order some days because we are really different. And I haven't figured out yet how to be me fully and completely and live happily.

And at work, it's a challenge for me. I can be me to a certain point, but then I can't because of my role. My role is important and I'm not called there to be friends with everyone. And my co-workers and I probably wouldn't be friends if we met in different circumstances and there are times it is really hard to try to be friends. It takes so much more energy than I possess, because what I need often isn't what I get and I don't feel like what I give is what is needed or desired. And all of that makes me sad.

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