Where is home?
My journey over the cancer seas and beyond
My cat is curled up in the far corner under my bed. Or rather under my friend’s bed, in her home. The sanctuary that I have been staying in to travel these cancer lands. He is ok really, just a bit overwhelmed at times and in recovery from bladder stones. He is living in my room, with access to outside via a flat roof and his jumping and climbing skills, a chicken wire door in place on the landing. I know, it all sounds a bit mad. It is a bit mad, but its the only way to acclimatise him to being here because there is another cat that lives here too. He is a visitor, I am a visitor. Its a tricky old process getting them used to each others smell and presence. So he is curled up in the far corner under my bed. A creature that feels like home to me.
I was laying on the floor talking to him. Telling him he is safe and I got to thinking that we are both in massive change. I looked up at the underside of my grans side table. She made it in her 70's, out of oak, with hidden dovetail joints, its so lovely. It is one of the only things I own from my long gone childhood. It also feels like home. But I’m not even sure I know what home really looks or feels like. I mean I know the textures of places I have lived over the many years. Cabins on the side of mountains, Georgian houses that we squatted in my early 20’s. Shared places with friends, or ones of my own, beautiful spaces many of them. And yet I have a lingering feeling that I still don’t know what it is to be truly home. Do any of us? Is this longing an existential crisis that will never be resolved whilst we are alive? I consider how close to homelessness I have wandered this life. Many times out of choice, perhaps to see the truth of what home is. For it has always seemed beyond the physical structures and yet very much held by them. Enlivened by the stories of the things inside them, by the lives of the people and the animals.
Its even more starkly apparent this displaced sensation at the moment as my body is not feeling like home to me right now and I wonder if it ever will again. Its healing. The scar is light pink, I have full movement of my arm and I am grateful. The chemo and radiotherapy storms are receding. And I am changed. What was so familiar is now different. The underside of my arm has no feeling, indeed much of my chest is the same and the other arm that had the picc line in it feels really painful. Its like the lights all went out on the home of my former body forever and now I must learn to see in the dark, learn to dance a different dance, to weave a different story.
I had been feeling challenged about my hair being shaved pre my chemotherapy treatments. And now I’m here with a smattering of new baby hair and a sense of surrender within. I can relate to the need for everything to be different, because everything is different. I hope I will be here to a ripe age, as do my army of very determined loves intent on keeping me around for as long as possible. But none of us can really know with certainty what will come to pass. This is a daily meditation, this impermanence we all live.
Accepting the changes and learning to feel more at home in myself are all part of the journey whatever the outcome. I just would like the opportunity to feel at home in a place as well at home in myself. I realise that I have cultivated being a visitor for a very long time. I’ve made an art form out of it. Very rarely do folk ever visit me at home. Which is nothing to do with their love of me, its more to do with me always insisting on visiting them. And that many of my homes have been in out of reach places.
I’m thinking its time for this to change. I want a different feel of home. A kitchen table kind of place with friends who drop by more easily. Of course I still need my area of seclusion, how else would I get my writing done! I trust that a new home is out there and will come at the right ttime. Meanwhile I continue to enjoy the deep kindness of my friend, whilst I recover in her lovely home. My cat has ventured out from under the bed, I take that as a good sign for us both.