I know they say you can’t go home again             
I just had to come back one last time
Ma’am I know you don’t know me from Adam
But these handprints on the front steps are mine

I was just a few months old when my parents moved to Germany.  I remember a brief visit back to the States when I was 3?  4?  Fleeting images of staying on the second house on my grandparent's farm.  Chasing my cousin Kara through the hay fields of my other grandparents' farm.  Eating strawberries from the garden.  I don't think we went back to the States until I was 9.  I'm a military kid.  We moved.  All of us moved.  Every peer I had moved.  Every friend I had moved and I moved away from every friend.  We switched houses.  Jobs.  Neighborhoods.  Schools.  Day care centers.  Sledding hills.  Bike riding paths.  It all changed.  Every two years, it was a new set of everything.

Up those stairs in that little back bedroom
Is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar
I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
My favorite dog is buried in the yard

England once.  Texas once.  The Philippines once.  Germany twice.  The only friend I kept in touch  with from my childhood is because of Facebook, of all things.  I'd look for my other childhood friends, but I don't remember their last names.  I barely remember their faces.  I remember some things about each place we lived, but I don't know what it's like to know the place where you live.  Every nook, every cranny, your neighborhood ... I don't get it.  So I continue to move.  Graduate undergrad school and get married?  Move to the Vineyard town.  No big deal.  I missed the former friends, but I had lived in one place for an astonishing 8 years.   Past time to move on.  Bad divorce, time for graduate school?  Move to Portland.  The healing came from somewhere else than home.

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself

If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

I don't know where my father lives.  Nevada, I hear, but anything after that's a mystery.  My mom and step-dad live in Central Oregon, in a town I think is charming, but also a town I visit rarely and have no real ties to.  When it gets bad, I don't go home.  What's home?  Sometimes I wonder, sure, what it would be like to be from somewhere.  But I'm not from somewhere.  When people ask me where I'm from, I name the last place I live.  Right now?  I moved from the Vineyard town two years ago.  What built me?  The process of moving built me.  The absence of home built me.  I'm doing ok, by the way.  Built a little differently, maybe.

Mama cut out pictures of houses for years
From Better Homes and Gardens magazine
Plans were drawn and concrete poured
Nail by nail and board by board
Daddy gave life to mama’s dream

But Shoes is from somewhere.  Shoes was born in a town nearby to where his parents lived in rural Eastern Washington because the town they lived in didn't have a hospital at the time.  He's known his oldest friends since the 1st grade.  They grew up together.  Went to high school together.  Went to college together in that same town ... and were roommates while attending college.  I don't think they know it yet, but Shoes will be asking them to be groomsmen in the wedding.  We drive around and Shoes says, "This is where we ...."  and "Chris and I rafted down this drainage ditch in January" and "I went to elementary school here and it's where I got burned by the firecracker" and "Alex's parents owned this McDonalds" and "before there were those 5 subdivisions behind my parents house, it was just wheat fields rolling out into forever."  It's like a foreign language.  It is the mighty Palouse, and the might Palouse is having a love affair with Shoes.  I have a feeling we'll move there ... one day ... at some point.  I hope I'm ready at that point, but there's a piece of me that doesn't know if I can do it.  You just stay in one place?  What if you don't like it?  What if you feel stifled?  What if the PTA hates you?  What if I can't find a big enough client base to build my counseling practice?  What if I get snowed in for a month?

You leave home and you move on and you do the best you can
I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself

But then again, maybe it's time to create a place to return back to time after time.  Maybe it's time to create an epicenter pin on my map.  Maybe, at 33, it's time for me to be open to creating space that's for settling down, digging deep and growing some roots.  Maybe there's a fulfillment there I'm missing.  Maybe there's a part of me I don't know yet exists.

Maybe I won't know until it happens.

Maybe Shoes is worth all of those questions.

Maybe that's definitely true.  Like I said before, I take the chance because I trust the person.

(Miranda Lambert, The House That Built Me, 2010).


  1. Anonymous on October 5, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    I know where you're from...you have places in all the hearts of everyone who has had the honor of knowing you. We all travel and take you with us. You go where we go. We go where you go. We are your home. You are our home.

  2. Lisa on October 5, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    Thanks, W. I've never thought about home in the context of other souls. Helps take some of the dissonance I feel from not having a physical landscape to call my own...

  3. AandW Drive-Thru on October 15, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    Oh Lisa, I "think" I understand a bit of where you are coming from. People ask me where I'm from and I start with "Well, we spent 2 years in Italy and before that 4 years just outside of St. Louis and before that I went to college here and here and here and my husband is from here and my family is from here." I look back and see all the little places I call "home", fond memories of each stop on in this journey called life. On the other hand, I did spent the first 18 years of my life in the same area, so I have some of those stories like Shoes does as well. It's amazing the journey each life takes and gets to call its own, eh? I'm not sure A and I are ready to settle down yet either.


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