I was in Indianapolis for a Library conference last week. It was cold. There were 10,000 librarians and me. I am not a librarian but I am responsible for a Library. I love the work. Not sure if I wrote about that here, but last January 2013, I inherited the Library as part of my domain at the City. So I went to this huge conference and listened to many great speakers, Brian Stevenson, Simon Sinek, Jane Pauley, Ann Patchett, just to drop a few names. It inspired me to read more and to write more.
One speech, I think it was Jane Pauley got me thinking about things. The past, life, making a home. I don’t recall what she said specifically but I remember the flood of memories that came to me when she spoke about what a “home” would be like, and how hard I tried to “create” that for myself. I am fortunate, I have a home, I own it and the house payment and the “maybe” termites that might be moving in, the gutters that need to be cleared and the fact hat it was built almost 20 years before I was even born. The plumbing that needs to be replaced in the kitchen and the windows that need dowels to hold them up. And I have never felt more at home in my life than I do now.
It made me remember when I felt so out of place, when I was a kid. My parents divorced after my year in kindergarten, that was when it was taboo especially since I went to Catholic school. I want so badly to fit in with the rest. I was the outsider. I wasn’t allowed to have friends over and I wasn’t allowed to make friends in the neighborhood, my mother said all the kids had lice. So I read and fantasied about everything that wasn’t reality.
When I got a little older I finally started to visit other peoples houses, usually through my grandmother taking me along on her Avon visits. What I noticed was that everyone had a sofa in the living room. This must be the way normal people live, I thought. We had a bed in the living room. My grandmother slept in it, and sometime she let me lay with her to watch “I Love Lucy”. I remember being in that bed late at night and waking up the night Bobby Kennedy was shot. The black and white TV was on and my mother was in the living room along with my Grandmother, they were both crying.
We didn’t have a lot, but my grandmother being the crafty seamstress she was made a fitted cover for the bed and upholstered the 1 chair we had in the living room with the same green brocade cloth and added a couple pillows. Looking back on this I can clearly see that she was making this “home”. But for me it never seemed normal, and I was embarrassed that we had a bed in the living room.
When I finally moved out on my own at the age of 19 the first thing I bought was a sofa. I had inherited a bed and dresser in the move and the little apartment above the garage I was renting was partially furnished. But I needed a sofa. I remember saving up and buying my first one, it was brown, I think it was $400. A lot for a staving student working 2 jobs and going to UCLA.
I had that same sofa until about 12 years ago when I finally got rid of it. I alway have a sofa in the living room now. What’s even better is that there is usually a dog on it too.