Tonight I am sitting alone on my balcony of intensity listening to the indie country folk ladies that welcomed me here, blasting from my little blue tooth speaker into my storage unit disguised as an apartment, I’ve called home this whole time. The sun is setting an ivory-gold over the market, through the big bare tree of an unknown variety, I’m drinking a too-full glass of red wine, smoking ciggies, a candle lit scented bergamot, thinking about what craziness has happened to me since arriving here as “big-girl-Marly.”
I feel like I have been dating Austin, Texas this whole time, noncommittal, low expectations, but always hopeful, in my best dresses, a series of first dates over and over again- the exciting anxiety of that initial meeting, the good postured, tilted head, sideways grin, unexpected wink, pursed lipped, glossy eyed, soft giggle courtship dance I’ve played, trying to lure him in- using the quiet voice I would use if I were hosting the Charlie Parker midnight Sunday radio show, telling the same 17 “sure-to-fall-in-love-with-me” Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan love song, crazy artist stories I have, using my fork and knife and holding my booze, like I learned how to do in Paris that one night- always one foot out the door and contingency plans just in case it’s really that bad or he wants to split the check, or drink only one glass of wine…
And how many actual first dates did I actually go on- upwards of fifty, at least- epic OKCupid dating, I might as well have been speed dating, one man on Monday, another on Tuesday, two on Sunday afternoon. 46 of them never made it past one.
I guess I was just always hoping that if I kept dating Austin, Texas or these poor souls from the mobile app, that eventually I would find it, and it would feel like home.
My mother and I often talk about longing for home. But what is home, now that we’ve sold our brick and mortar version in Minnesota and now live in rented ones apart in different states? What is home when you’ve lost half of what home was composed of and all the traditions that went with them?
The holidays are hard without a home. But I think it’s even more than that, maybe it’s about tradition. Maybe tradition makes home. For example every Sunday was reggae waffle Sunday, in that home I spoke about. My family would all get together scarf waffles and jam out to Third World or Inner Circle on the record player. In the evening if the wind was right, we’d pack capirenas or mojitos and hit the sunset on the sailboat bringing the reggae with us on cassette tape.
It’s this that my mother and I long to go home to, the feeling of safety that comes with knowing just what you will do on a Sunday in June.
But maybe, as I think on it more, the big take away us this: Maybe it’s about finding home inside yourself. Maybe I was asking Austin, Texas and these (I’m sure) very lovable men, to fill some sense of home I myself couldn’t recreate alone.
Maybe I’ve become a “real big girl” and I’m ready to accept my flaws and those in others and let myself go, go on the second, fourth, seventh date, let him give me the keys to his downtown loft, let his compliments sink in, believe he truly does want me, let him just be the city he is, not asking him to look or act like some fragmented conception of “home” but realize that it’s time to just move on, love him for who he is now, make new traditions and be my own home, safe, in my heart.
And maybe Austin, Texas will be my setting to that old-told coming of age story the great novelists of the past have told for centuries, only maybe I will tell mine as a hermit crab, turtle, conch or snail- truly bringing my home with me wherever it is I end up.
The Dress: I took a vintage black silk shift dress and sewed four rows of big black ball fringe at the bottom, well actually in all honesty, I paid someone to do it for me, me and my sewing machine do not understand each other yet- the addition of the fringe took the dress from “whatever” to “what detail!” it’s amazing what a little fringe will do, actually ball fringe makes everything better.
The Necklace: I took a big pack of plastic play-snakes that I bought at the craft store and spray painted them gold- use Krylon for plastic! Then kids, I literally just HOT GLUED them together in a medusa cluster and drilled holes in the two topmost snake heads and voila, you have a show stopping statement necklace to rule them all, the best part is that it looks like metal from afar so it looks “expensive” but really the whole thing probably cost me $5 to make.
Listening to: honey honey & Karen Elson