Home speaks to the primal in us, because if we're lucky, within it, is a place that is ours, where we belong and where we are fully accepted. As a child this may be a favored stuffed animal and a mother or father's voice lulling you to sleep. As a teenager, home may be in the middle of your bedroom with the black lights on and death metal raging. And as an adult, home is your first apartment, the 100X100 square foot, roach infested kitchenette with cinder block shelving that is disgusting, but yours.
My friend was mentioning to me the other day that I need a home away from home, simply because where I currently live has too many memories and isn't really my own space. I had been complaining about feeling simultaneously stressed out by my environment as well as irrevocably attached. I oddly never feel alone at home by myself, but often do feel vulnerable and sad at a table for one at a coffee shop or another place where people go to simply be around other people. So, yesterday, it being a beautiful "blue sky day" as they say in China, I grabbed Liontamer, my camera and went for a walk outdoors on a trail near a historic, riverside mill.
I will have the photos posted tomorrow, but the trip got me to thinking about how different I am from a woman my age 100 years ago. Even walking on the nature trail with Larry we were careful to stay on the path, not get ourselves lost...and when I was thirsty after about 2 hours of wandering, we went right back to our car. A woman from the turn of the century might have just ambled down to the river, and taken a drink, then walked two or three miles home. A woman from the turn of the century probably had to get dinner started around 2 or 3 in the afternoon so it would be ready by evening....all I had to do was pop some Ramon in the microwave for a few minutes.
All I knew about the women from the area was really what existed on their tombstones on the cemetary down the street. Maybe Ella Proctor from 1882 was meek and righteous, maybe she was petty and angry. Maybe she was completely unremarkable in every way. But I'd like to think that if you dropped her in the middle of New York City, she would have some transferable skills...even if the machines on the road were loud and frightening and if people dressed so immodestly.
And if you dropped me in the middle of the Wild West in the 1880s...(which I think would be an appropriate comparison), would I have any idea how to survive? Maybe, although I'd be much more comfortable if my time travel experience supplied me with s six shooter.
But are there things Ella and I could both do? We both know lullabies to sing to children. She and both could probably fix a hole in a sock, or sew on a button. We know how to start a fire with kindling and peel and boil potatoes. Perhaps things haven't changed as much as we'd like them to believe. After all, I'm just one natural disaster away from Ella's daily life, though we are eons apart in our sensibilities, opinions, and education.
But I did decide to do something to prove to myself that I still have some genetic memory of my pioneer ancestry. I decided to bake an apple pie....with all the modern day conveniences of a brand new, gas stove with electric controls, ready made crust and store-bought Gala apples (likely imported from Brazil or someplace).
How difficult could pie be anyway? I'd taken out all the guess work for the crust and I didn't even have to pick the apples off the tree. I added spices from my cabinet and cleaned out some of my old college junk while I waited for the oven timer to tell me it was done. Perhaps it wasn't Ella's home or the way she would have made pie, but it was my home, complete with dishes in the sink, the computer on the kitchen table and the very same feeling of peace that comes to all who bake.
Yet, as I was chucking out old papers on human rights and anthropology, the oven timer kept beeping and Liontamer kept telling me that the crust wasn't brown yet. Then, the liquid in the pie started to bubble up and out of the holes in the crust, making a mess on the cookie sheet we had underneath the pan. When we could finally wait no longer, we decided to let the pie cool, and I realised that I really should have gone out and gotten some flour for the filling....as it was now a watery mess...and the crust wasn't nearly as flaky as the picture on the packaging.
And although the pie didn't taste terrible, I felt truly inadequate eating it with a spoon and pretending it was cobbler or apple soup surprise. Ella probably baked prize-winning pies, pies that won her beautiful ribbons and the envy of her quilting circle, and I have never quilted and my pie would have probably been fed to the dogs.
So I went upstairs with my book and my lamp and decided that simple pleasures aren't experiments...they're simple because they come naturally. And the same goes for being home...no matter how hard you try you only have one, and for me, it's not on a nature trail or in a Starbucks, but reading on the couch with Liontamer on the computer next to me.