The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. – Maya Angelou
Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey. – Tad Williams
I grew up in a small city in New Hampshire. While heading home does not take long, I was recently describing to a friend how different I feel just crossing the border into my home state. It’s as though the home I know is looking out for me, that 89 is a little safer, a little less winding, and that if I needed help, I would be able to find it. It is from that sense of safety that I operate. I can just imagine my home and I’m more ready to take on the day.
For many of our writers, they have or have had a home they feel the same way about, a place where there are people and/or animals they care about and that care about them. These homes are where their children live or where they do their best cooking, where they keep their art supplies or their garden. And some of our writers don’t have a home to go to when their sentence is up which becomes one of their greatest challenges upon release.
In the pieces below, our writers examine the relationship between house and home, home and self, home and safety, and where the prison falls. Is it easier to call it home even if it’s only temporary? Does it help to have a home to go to? And what happens when you don’t have a home – how does that change your stay the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility? In the next month we will continue to examine these issues in a month-long discussion on housing, offering all writers to answer these questions and, ultimately, to advocate for themselves and what they believe should change.
Here is the start of our conversation:
My Body, My House
My mind is the attic in my house full of oil and relics and cherished memories. At times the attic needs a thorough cleaning. Sweep up the dust, clear out the cobwebs, prepare the space for acceptance, new beginnings. There are so many things to learn, experience, and feel. If your mind is cluttered and in disarray, it can be overwhelming. It is a lot of work to clean and prepare your mind to accept new challenges. Is it worth it? Good question: can I do it? Of course, I can just take a simple step. Arrange your thoughts, your mind will follow. What an exciting time to be alive.
Me and My Home
Many people feel they have to go, go, go
out of their house, to be somewhere else.
Not me, I love my home. Notice I
don’t call it my “house” because to me
it feels like home.
Comfortable, clean, decorated
always the fragrance of something
cooking or baking.
While I live here, at this establishment,
I miss being in my home.
I miss everything.
The walls, floors, the
light that flows in
My babies, or as some say, “pets”–
they love their home too.
They all have favorite places, usually
wherever I am.
Especially if I’m in the kitchen.
I purposely drop cheese, turkey,
bologna, anything, it’s all treats to them.
They stare with such intent, waiting
for the next crust of food to fall.
I guess if I thought of my home as my body,
my head would be the bedroom, I do
a lot of thinking there.
My belly would have to be the kitchen
and my legs, they would be the floor.
It seems silly when I think of me as my home
but my home is a reflection of me,
my style, my personality.
While I am in my home,
I hope my doors keep out angry strangers.
Memories fill my mind, and the beauty
inside and outside fill my eyes.
I can’t wait, my home must be lonely without me,
it needs me so we can both breathe again.
This is my temporary home.
I must remember I am not alone.
Being aware of all who are around me,
sometimes I’m blind yet other times I see.
I may not always want to see.
It’s good to know where I stand,
knowing and remembering that others may not
always be where I am.
My journey here is a blessing in disguise–
I needed this time for me, to ponder, to acknowledge
but mostly for me to realize
what I have for me out there…
beautiful kids, a promising future, and people who care.
I can’t let this get the best of me, or to even bring me down.
I must tell you that
my first few weeks here
and between the tears, emotions, and uncertainty.
I felt like I was going to drown.
Pull myself together I say…
you will get through this time
open your eyes and your heart
and hopefully–you will never be blind–
to see what brought you here, where you went wrong
because in the end–you will come out a lot more strong.
Move swiftly with confidence, grace, and knowledge,
your attitude can be contagious–
make it a positive one.
Everyone has a story, a past
but must always remember–
this is only temporary.