Today is day two of my life as a homeowner. Technically, it’s day three — we got the keys on Tuesday — but yesterday was the first day I actually woke up as a homeowner, so I’m calling it day two. I love this house. I haven’t even moved in and I love this house. I love it as a place, as a symbol and as an object. As a place, it represents home, of course, but perhaps not only in the traditional sense of “this is my home.” Beyond the back yard dense with decades-old oaks and pines, the mid-century modern decor and the basement workshops, it represents an end to a lifetime of feeling like I don’t really belong anywhere. My parents divorced when I was four and my mom and I moved around a lot. In fact, I never went to the same school two years in a row until junior high — and even then, we moved again the summer before high school, so I was effectively starting over. College and the years after came and went along with the growing number of places I lived — or rather occupied. It wasn’t until 2000 that I had an apartment for any length of time. And while I enjoyed the complex, I never felt like I belonged — not really— and the apartment never felt like home. Fast forward to a couple months ago — keep in mind, I’m blowing past leaving California, moving to the East Coast, falling in love and getting married, all in the span of about a year. My wife and I had been looking off and on at houses and one night, she was looking at Zillow and I think she may have even gasped. “Oh, my God,” she said, “you have to see this. I think I found our house.” We drove up to look at it that night and, as we walked up the driveway, one of the first things we noticed was a momma deer lying under one of the many trees in the back yard. She wasn’t startled, nor did she get up and run away. On the contrary, she just — and I really don’t know how else to put it — she just “welcomed us home.” I’ll save the rest for another story but, suffice to say, from the moment we walked around the house it felt as though we belonged here. We fell in love with it from the first walkthrough. With the exception of the lighting fixture in the entry and the wallpaper in both bathrooms, we literally would not change a thing. We learned that the couple who owned the house were the original owners. They had built the house themselves in 1956. He was an engineer and a woodworker and she was a painter. This was a house built by makers — with studios both on the main level and in the lower level. The evidence of their “makerness” is seen throughout the house, from the impeccable woodwork and decor to the presentation space on the lower level where new paintings were unveiled to family and friends.
I’ve wrestled with the notion of home for much of my life, and in recent years, I’ve also wrestled with my own creative output — especially as it relates to personal work and finding my voice. But in this place — steeped in the legacy of love and craft that runs so deeply through its bones — I feel as though a great existential weight has been lifted and I no longer have to eat up processor cycles searching for what it means to belong…to be home. I am home. I am grateful. And I’m ready to get to work.
How does where you make affect what you make?
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I’ve been fascinated by crows since I was a kid. Recently, I came across this documentary on the intelligence of crows. One of the most fascinating (some researchers say “human like”) traits is their ability to actually recognize faces and are able to even associate specific faces with danger. They are also able to pass knowledge to offspring as a form of social learning.
In 1966, artist Ed Ruscha photographed every building on the Sunset Strip in Southern California. He released the two and a half miles worth of photos as a book called, appropriately, Every Building on the Sunset Strip. The accordion-folded book unfurls for twenty seven feet. This short film about his work (charmingly narrated by Owen Wilson) is a terrific watch.
If you have an interest — any interest — chances are there’s a convention of some sort dedicated to it. In his book Conventional Wisdom, photographer Arthur Drooker takes the viewer beyond Hall H and into a world of weekend mermaids, plushies, ventriloquists, fetishists, Santas, and even Abraham Lincoln cosplayers. “The wisdom I’ve gained from this project,” Drooker writes, “has shown me that regardless of what they’re about, where they’re held or who attends them, all conventions satisfy a basic human urge: a longing for belonging.”