Scraps of a Semester

“And it was then that she first felt all the dark love and shame that came from the pure accident of home, the deep and arbitrary place that happened to be yours.” –Lorrie Moore, Agnes of Iowa (short story)

I haven’t posted since the summer, when I spent my days wearing plastic gloves that left behind a strange powder on my fingers, and dunking my hands into hot dishwater that left my knuckles red and cracked. Now my fingers are calloused from my overtight grip of pens and pencils, my fingernails sloping at odd angles from the occasional (reprimanded!) nibble. This semester, dragging and tedious, often triggered thoughts of Wyoming–the cloud wrapped peaks of the Tetons; “Boulder City,” the boulder studded field hidden off a narrow trail. But I was hunched in the chair that occupied the space between my bed and desk, or slouched behind the living room table that pushed me against the window. If my summer was characterized by freedom, returning to school was a bit of a culture shock, to say the least.

But! But now I am home, thoughts of college persisting only when I anxiously check my school e-mail for grades. As I get older, “home” becomes a term increasingly fluid, its definition and applications growing.

Home (noun):

1. a navy house on a cul-de-sac in suburban MA “I haven’t been home since Thanksgiving break.”

2. a three bedroom apartment in a dorm in Philadelphia “I can’t wait to go home after class!”

3. the state of mind achieved when one drives through narrow, empty streets at dusk playing music with the windows cracked even though it’s winter “‘Why did it take you a half hour to drive home from the store?’ ‘Sorry, it was just the first time I felt home.'”

4. the feeling when you see your best friend of 13 years for the first time in months, and even though lately life has seemed frighteningly mercurial, her face reassures you that there can, indeed, be consistency in good things.

5. fireplaces and fleece sheets and old stained slippers see: comfort

In two days we leave for Connecticut, where we will spend Christmas at my aunt’s home. I am too excited–I love the noise of extra bodies, even if I’m just reading a book on the couch. I love the socks shuffling on hardwood floors, the elbows and hips knocking behind the stove, the clattering of misclaimed glasses (we’re all family!).

And so it feels good to be “home.” It feels good to be reading Lorrie Moore’s short stories not as procrastination but as pleasure. It feels good to be writing, to be returning to this blog and to be starting a novel (I feel that by mentioning it, I’ve jinxed its already unlikely completion). To celebrate this freedom, I’ve included photos, scraps of this semester, if you will–because there were good bits I’m thankful for. Good friends and good brunches and good walks through Philadelphia (which I fall more in love with each semester). And of course, things I don’t have pictures of, though I wish I did: a wonderful fiction workshop (with wonderful people) that single-handedly redeemed this term; countless home-cooked meals with friends; a mouse in our apartment that spurred a hilarious evening.

Fall term, you were tough. But you were worth it.