Modernism Monday: “Home,” David Byrne and Brian Eno

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Sorry for the unannounced hiatus, Tune Sharks – I’ve been at a rodeo (as one is from time to time). I’ve spent the past three days in a location I have never been to before. At certain times, I felt very far away from home. So I spent much of the time thinking about what “home” means. The best friend I visited just moved back to her home state and had been having a bit of a tough readjustment period. I couldn’t have empathized more. Having spent two decades there, how can a few years away make things feel so different upon return? I, too, am considering a move, to make a new home for myself somewhere else. I’ve done that multiple times before but this time it feels scarier, a lot riskier. But isn’t home less about place and more about people? And if I move with and closer to those people in whose company I feel fully myself, safe, and accepted, then why should it feel as alarming?

Home and identity are inextricably twinned. Even people with pathological wanderlust have places that make them feel at home, centered. Home is a major identifier – a way we are binned into categories by people we barely know. People who have been born in one place, grew up in another, and live someplace else, as is my lot, don’t have any idea what to say when asked where they’re from. In a way, they’re both stateless and ambulatory new states – some multi-location hybrid. A territory, population 1. But who am I? Am I anyone recognizable? Will people understand me?

The peril we face as we grow is the possibility of outgrowing either our people-homes or our place-homes. Or, as can often happen, both. We become trees whose roots have punched through the sidewalk and whose top branches recline in the power lines. We are awkward, ostentatious, dangerous eyesores in our communities. We’re show-offs. We need to go. Also unpleasant is that this can make us feel ungrateful: we have used up all the resources we can and are moving on, leaving a depleted moonscape behind us. Now we really aren’t from anywhere, and if we’re not from anywhere, how can we ever go home?

Because we aren’t the center of the universe. Everything is changing, all the time. We can go back home. We can make new homes. Sometimes that’s the same thing.

Before I get to go home, Im getting on another plane to spent a week in another strange place, this time for work. Don’t worry, I promise I’ll write.

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