On the Idea of Home

“In leaving my home and having no home of which to return , I find that I am more home than I have perhaps ever been.”

This was a Facebook status I posted, which I realize makes it seem much less poignant, but it was exactly how I was feeling at the time that I moved out, about a week ago.

It was an eerie feeling, this calm a midst total upheaval. Why do I seem so OK with this?

Given everything that has happened in the last year, my apartment had actually become a foreign place to me. It was not a safe space. People that I had welcomed into that space suddenly turned around and made me wish I hadn't:

My rapist threatening to show up on my doorstep, and during this past winter, he actually did. A marine threatening to come barge into my apartment and take all the gifts he gave me, back for not wanting to take our relationship further… Texting my brother my address to come pick up some things I had kept for him, despite knowing my parents’ endearing habit of breaking into personal belongings for information… you get the idea.

Throwing out my mattress was possibly one of the most liberating moments of my move out. I had forgotten, as I flipped the mattress over soon after the incident to not be reminded of it, that there was still blood stains left there. A reminder of the two days after when I didn’t have the energy to care where I was bleeding from, or to tend to it.

It was more satisfying to hear that the day after we moved out, the entire apartment was torn out, to be remodeled. I was very happy to hear this.

I think the calm came from what home actually is. Which given Thich Hanh Hanh’s texts, and responses to my Facebook status like one from a friend, saying:

“ Home is where the heart is…which is in your chest. You are a beautiful being who is becoming more at home in her own skin all the time. I’ve been honored to know you during this time in your life.”

The truth of the matter is, home is a matter of love. And you can cultivate that in all sorts of places. Not just in hearts, in work places, in other families. One person in particular, my mentor from high school and the woman who harbored me when I was in the middle of emancipating myself from my parents wrote, in her always austere tone:

“ You always have someplace to come home to and you know it.”

My friend and my mentor both hit the same point, with different examples. My friend was describing much of what my tattoo was meant to remind me of. My body is my temple, my body is my home. I have been given this vessel and to ignore its purpose and it’s relief from relying for things outside the self should be respected.

My mentor was a reminder that through cultivating the self, I have created a self that is welcomed in the homes outside of the self. She is a reminder of all the families that have welcomed me with open arms into the intimacy of their own home and family.

It is hard, given my distrust of family dynamics, to accept that sometimes. To be welcomed seems a mistake made by people all too trusting of me, but I will, in this time of upheaval feel it a call to embrace it more fully.

Thich Naht Hanh writes on being “At Home In the Dharma Body” in Going Home:

“Buddhism teaches that you have many bodies including a physical body and a Dharma body, and it is possible to touch it. You also have the Buddha body that you can touch at any time.” (Going Home, 53).

Hanh goes on to explain an anecdote of a pupil sick and dying and feeling regret for not having the ability to visit with the Buddha. Buddha replies “Come on, this physical body is not the most important thing. If you have touched the Dharma, then my Dharma body is always with you.”

The word dharma has no decent western translation, and differs in meaning per religion, but Hanh explains the dharma body as “the body of the teaching.” That your practice is a slow discovery of your dharma body, and that it does not necessarily involve just you, but those you allow to aid in the cultivation of your teaching.

At my Honors Convocation ceremony, one of my professors, who I have had for at least three years of my college life, and who mentored me through an independent study my last quarter gave me a book at the ceremony. He had written me about it. “The author—the genius—Virginia Wolfe, committed suicide. i don’t want you to be inspired by THAT. I want you to be inspired by her ideas in A Room of One’s Own. it’s story for a strong woman like you. and you may share it some day with your daughters.”

Not that I plan on having any daughters, or children, really, but he painted the idea of what a home looked like with the recommendation of this book. I read it over this summer, and though Woolf asserts the requirement of an actual room “with a lock on the door,” the more important theme, for me, was the freedom allotted with independence.

I plan to find myself a home, wherever I go, not just for a roof over my head or company, but for people who aid me in the progressive learning and discovery of my dharma body and for the sake of independence.

With that said, I would like to thank, in my small way all the people who have welcomed me into their home, and I would be honored to welcome you to my intangible home, the home of ever learning, ever growing through mediums such as this.

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