Sunday, July 22, 2007

Home Stories and Harry Potter

*** It should not have to be said but there are NO spoilers in the following***


It happened on page 47.

I knew it was going to happen. I completely expected to cry though a great deal of the final Harry Potter novel. I just didn’t think it would happen that quickly, or that the reason for it would be so profoundly unrelated to the rest of the story, and perhaps the most important part for the sheer banality of it.

There is in me and extraordinary affinity for home stories. By home I mean those stories which discuss the relationship between a person and that space that exists and is known as home. I remember as a child reading Tolkien and being moved to tears not by the great heroics of the tiny hobbits or there taller compatriots, but instead by troupe of small hobbits finally settling into home after the cleansing of the Shire. That sense as the group of friends sat and stared at each other and realized that home was here and not here all at the same time. I understood this complete at the age of ten. The ability of a place to torn in two by frame of mind of the person in that place/time, it made perfect sense to me then.

It is not a happy thing for me. I think of home I think of Chicago. The place where I would be if I were not in Korea. Chicago, my hometown; place where I never really lived but which I belong to almost completely, except for when I belong to something else. The city is familiar to me and feels like home, smells like home, is my home. But only after Shimer.

Shimer was my first real home. The first great safe place that enveloped and understood me. That took me in for all my eccentricity and let me stay even when I railed against it. It was were my family started, the family that keeps me even now, the family that I think about when I feel alone or insecure, those happy light faces full of love, Socrates, and community. My home, but that it doesn’t really exist anymore, it stopped existing as soon as I left it, and it would not exist again, no matter how much I might try to call it back.

In the past before Shimer there was a house and a family full of people that I knew, they had names, and faces, and I grew up with them, but I called it home because it was the proper thing to do, but it never really felt completely like the place where I was or where I could be. I remember when I lived in the dank mountains in the middle of no where and thought to call it home that I often thought of the desert and wondered when I could escape back. I’d convinced myself at the young age of eight that the desert was home.

The desert with the beautiful flat expanse, scrub brush and mesas and warm hot sun all the time. The dirt and the dust, and my skin tanned so brown I did justice to the Puerto Rican heritage. My hair fell in long curtains to my waist, and I’d ride my bike down the dirt road, the road that only a few families live on. I had a room and painted it lavender. It was to by my home. The Indians from the Res would come to baby-sit sometimes and would make fry bread with honey for us to eat. It was a truly happy time. It was home the home I craved and it didn’t really exist because I sometimes missed the compacted washed out ghetto of the coal town I lived in even earlier than that.

Coal town was dingy, company house same as all the other company houses. I like this and it was safe and comfortable because I was so close to my grandma who I love, and my Aunt Sissy who I thought would keep me safe from all the harm in the world. Here in this part of the world where the big pine trees gathered around huge buildings my cousins would take me swimming, cousins who were huge towering tall people, big people, people I wanted to be like someday. This was what was meant when people talked of home. That enveloping safety the net of familiarity that holds you fast and keeps you tight, warm, happy. Something you’d be able to leave and return to and know it would be the same.

But it’s never really the same. After one more, after two, after three you start to feel that disjointed separation until finally you start making your own homes. You are the modern transient, the child of no house who comes from no where, who names the family that will hold them and claims to only those things that can be created and controlled. Outside of the place to which you can return to changed. The change is eternal and taken everywhere.

Page 47.

That’s when it happens. A short conversation between to characters and a definition of home that is perhaps one of the most powerfully profound things I’ve ever read.

“…you no longer call this place home. You…are going your separate ways tonight, in the full understanding that you’re never going to live together again…”

And I wept.

For all the wrong reasons when it comes to the story, but for all the right reasons when it comes to me. Sometimes it feels like we will never be together again.

It happened on page 47, and I’m not sorry that it did.

4 comments:

total-spender said...

I think I'm the only person on the planet who hasn't actually read Harry Potter.

Roger said...

thanks for the no spoilers sara!
haven't got my copy yet but my daughter got hers early (on the reserved list) wish I had thought of that to :D awesome writing Sara!

Tony said...

I don't know why, Sara, but I wept too while reading this post. Maybe I wept for the home I never had... the home where the child felt loved and safe and happy. Maybe I wept because of the momentary transport of my spirit into your reality as that tanned, long-haired child riding her bike and eating fry bread with honey. Maybe I wept because I am now an old fool who sees with different eyes and laments over the energies wasted on the unimportant things in life. The things that didn't make "home".

Saradevil said...

@TS
You should read it if you like fantasy novels with grand archetypal themes. I'm a fan. Which explains why my favorite author hands down is Frank Herbert.

@Roger
Always good to see you. Does Oger read HP?

@Tony
You hear the saying "home is where the heart is" but in reality if that were true a body would never be homesick. Obviously there is something that we all think of as home, the problem is no one every manages to really get there.