My home is Pittsburgh, specifically the communities in the eastern part of the city - Regent Square, Squirrel Hill, Highland Park, East Liberty, Lawrenceville. These are wonderful communities, rich with history, striding confidently into the future with new ways of being together.
What makes this place my home? I love the diversity of people and ideas and opinions that are here - I love seeing the bodacious bumper stickers on the cars, the older citizens who steadfastly stand at the four corners of the Forbes and Braddock intersection on Saturday mornings to protest the war, the quirky local restaurants, the vibrant houses of faith that serve their congregations and the larger community, the parks and the rivers. I love the friends that I have in this place who share many of my values and ideals, and who vociferously disagree with me on others.
My house is part of this home. It was built in 1929 and has had, I believe, four owners since that time. It is a sturdy bungalow, built for another time with its very tiny closets, built-in bookshelves, scarred wooden floors. It has a tiny yard which is just big enough for a garden of radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini. My house is part of my home because it provides shelter and comfort for me and my loved ones. Last winter, Michael brought his fiancee Leah to my home and invited his high school buddies over to introduce them to Leah (by the way, the wedding is 11 days away!). I have known these boys-men for most of my son's life - yes, he invited only his guy friends, with whom Leah more than held her own - I left them at the dining room table around 11 pm, and went to sleep on a cloud of happiness, knowing that these people who are so important to my son were gathered in this home to celebrate Michael's next step in life.
Of course, my family is also part of my home, my place, even when they are geographically removed. Around my house are Julie and Michael's art projects, books, toys, photos, gifts, cards.... pieces of their lives and spirits that are shared with me, that find a home in my house. My home is shared with Steve a good part of the time - filled with his generosity, humor, and kindness.
Poet Gary Snyder says - "Find your place on the planet. Dig in and take responsibility from there.” I have found my place. I identify with my home - my house, my neighborhood, my city, my family. It is part of me, and I see myself as part of this home. I feel an allegiance to my home, a sense of ownership beyond the financial property sense - a sense of responsibility to it. My home includes both property owned by me and the more important commons - that which is accessible to all, not privately owned. I will protect it, take care of it, improve it.
The Earth is also my home - this planet with all of its natural beauty and chaos, side-by-side with human-made technology and structures both wonderful and terrible. I try to stay connected and present to all parts of this home, as well as my smaller home, so that I am aware of how it is feeling and doing. I feel loyal to this much larger home. I have a sense of responsibility to care for it, not to hurt it, to heal its brokenness. I know that I am part of this larger home - embedded in it and dependent upon it - so that what is good for this larger Earth home is in the end good for me and my loved ones.
Tell us about your homes.
And that requires that we make the effort to know the world
and learn what is good for it."
- Wendell Berry