After several years of feeling homeless due to our family’s journey (which has felt distinctly like a 7 year vision quest, or odyssey) we are finally being guided to put down deeper roots and begin the process of buying a house.
I’ve been thinking about “home” a lot lately. Well, that’s not entirely true…I have been longing for “home” since I can remember (see my last entry, Seven Years). “Home” has meant safety to me….family, love, sweetness, and fun, but above all, safety.
Why is that? Why is “home” so much about safety for me? Is it because my house as a kid was so unsafe? Was it in the moment that I became attached to the Walton family on television that I equated my someday home with a haven, a sanctuary, a place that was safe for me and mine? And how interesting that Spirit guided us to leave the home that I loved so much in Asheville, the place where I subconsciously tried to re-create the Waltons in real life.
Our house in Asheville was amazing, perfect; an old white 1916 farmhouse, complete with front porch (and porch swing) and dormer windows upstairs, I didn’t realize the completely unconscious pull it had on me form the moment our realtor drove us up the long, oak lined driveway. The house had me from the road.
The decision to buy it was a completely emotional one; there was no logic whatsoever in a couple with two young children buying an aging house in need of renovations. But there was a nostalgia, a grace, and a promise of possibility of a happy family. It was too much to resist; I fell willingly into my fantasy’s gravitational pull. And so we became the proud owners of Fairview (our name for the house) in February 1998.
We renovated that house constantly. From eaves to basement, we repainted, pulled up old carpet, shone the oak floors, had the house jacked up from underneath to stop the sag, painted the complete outside, and drew up plans to completely pull off the back of the house to expand the tiny farmhouse kitchen. The acreage boasted heirloom roses, the kinds you cannot buy anymore, and peony, tulip and iris gardens straight out of Southern Living. We grew an outlandish organic vegetable garden (200 tomato plants one year) and enjoyed an orchard of peaches, plums, apples and fat blueberries the size of nickels. I canned, cooked, gathered bitterroot to make wreaths and decorated the house with hay bales and pumpkins for the fall…and for Yule, the house was an absolute showstopper.
I was so happy creating this haven for my children, playing mom and frontier wife. It was very satisfying in an “I am fulfilling my childhood dream” sort of way. But it was very focused on getting things done, and on appearances. As I read to my children in their beds at night, sometimes I would notice that I could almost feel the television camera in the corner of the room, capturing this happy moment of the mother and her boys snuggled up while she regaled them with tales from “My Side of the Mountain”. As I toiled in the gardens to pull the harvest, I caught myself wondering how people might view me, this capable woman who could grow food with her bare hands, and put it up for the winter, ensuring the well-being of her family. I felt ten feet tall.
It was in 2000 I started to feel something was not right; it was subtle at first, but became louder as the months and years wore on. I’d begun my spiritual inquiry in earnest, and the more I opened myself to a larger definition of “who is Licia?” the more my picture-perfect life was starting to fall apart at the seams. It became more toil than pleasure to work the garden and can the harvest. We had less joy in renovating the house; we began to feel the burden of the caretaking that the house required, as if the sweet old lady that we fell in love with suddenly became grumpy and demanding. Our sweet little boys could not persuade us to play with them because we were always so busy tending to the “grown up things”.
This all coincided with the growing awareness that Peter and I were growing apart. His career with Toshiba, while exciting and promising from the outside, took him away from us and from himself. The boys did not know their father, as he would come home exhausted at night with just enough energy to watch TV, and of course weekends were the time to work on the house. He started to become different, not the kind hearted man I’d married, but a more absent, alternating with calculating, person. I was losing him. This led to the big AHA in 2003 that we needed to do something drastic to save our family. I won’t retell that whole story here; you can read that on our family website http://www.berrytrip.us/.
We were guided to leave our beautiful home and to hit the road. During that time, the concept of home came up in many of our conversations. Where is home? Is it in a place? Is it in our RV? Is it in our family? Is it in our hearts? For 7 years we wandered the southern half of the country, with extended stops to integrate what we were learning in the high desert mountains of New Mexico and Colorado. In those places where we were guided to stay longer, I was the one who insisted on living in a house, sometimes way before it was really time to do it. I forced divine timing, and we suffered the consequences of that, in large part because I wanted “home”.
Our whole journey I mourned the loss of our old farmhouse; my body grew heavier as I searched for the ground underneath my feet, the earth I’d dug my fingers in to grow our food. The giant wheels of the RV moved us from place to place, and in that mobility, I felt groundless. In our family meetings, our inner guidance spoke to us frequently about finding home in our hearts, and someday also in soul family. But for now, on this long journey away from the familiar, we were to find home inside each of us.
I learned a lot on that 7 year voyage (we all did), so much that I am having to write a book about it. But in the mean time, I still struggle with the ache for a home, a place to put roots down, to make my own, to claim by putting my blood, sweat and tears into the land. Perhaps it is the Indian in me; I am attached to land, and I need to feel part of it to feel I belong.
But it has led me to wonder: What is this craving for home? Does everyone have it? What is the deeper meaning? Are we searching for soul family? Is it about finding our way back to our authentic selves? Is it our longing to be reunited with our Source? And for me, will it ever be appeased? Will I ever, in my life, feel I am home?