It’s been said that “home” is one of the most compelling words in the English language; it’s the place we come from and the place we are trying to get back to. It’s what we search for, in a place, in a person, in a purpose. For me, the definition of home will always include Kansas City, where I lived until I went away to college, in the city’s deteriorating core and marginal places, as well as the suburbs where we moved when I was ten. And though I haven’t lived there for a long time, the city with its old lines of segregation based on race and class and rivers and bridges, its short cuts and sports and barbeque, its solidly Midwestern ethos, will always occupy a part of my consciousness like the existence of my parents and sisters: just there in all of its half-understood nuance, internalized through the perceptions of childhood and adolescence, giving me a sense of grounding and permanence. At the same time that this city is more than just a place for me, it places me in the world.
After leaving Kansas City and joining the ranks of young adult transients (between the ages of 18 and 26 I lived in nine different places; this is not uncommon), I didn’t find home so much in a city or a residence but in people. These were the friends and loves who allowed me to feel known, and helped me know myself, who not only valued what I valued in myself but saw in me what I didn’t want anyone to see and named it the best part. These were the people who provided the ground for growth, and a place to leave from and return to. They allowed me to know the freedom that only surrender to vulnerability engenders.
A couple weeks ago I began a six month sabbatical, and the first four months of it will be spent at home. Home now, and for the last eleven years, is Davis and the house at 1007 Alice. Home now is the people who have moved through the births and crises and holidays and daily existence of the last eleven years with me. I’m grateful that I have the time and space for the next several months to tend to this home. I’m aware that a significant part of my work right now is the creation of home for others, especially for my children. A home that is worthy of all the word encompasses doesn’t happen on its own. Attention, devotion, and presence are required. Maturity, in its ability to risk and commit, is required. I hope that the home we are creating is experienced and remembered by my children as a place of adventure and sanctuary as well as a place of love and nurture. A place to leave from and return to.
CA House has often been referred to as a home away from home, and my sense is that has never been more true than it is now with the addition of the Multifaith Living Community. Probably the best part of my own college experience was the residential system that placed each student in a “house,” much like the houses in Harry Potter. All faculty were associated with a house, and all students took on the history and legacy of their house, giving us all mentors and identity, as well as a stable set of companions to journey with for four years. As the Multifaith Living Community grows up, my hope is that it would truly be home for our diversity of students: providing grounding and mentoring, imparting identity and a sense of unconditional love and community, and offering the gift of being known and seen.