Your books are the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in


Recognize the title, or at least parts of it?  Robert Frost coined the quote above, except in regards to “home,” not books.  Home is the place where, when you have to go there, it has to take you in, Frost said.  And I have always loved this quote, because for me home IS a receptive place.  If my years in social work have taught me anything, it’s that a loving home is the best stroke of good fortune (besides health).  So today, on my father’s 92nd birthday and the beginning of Mother’s Day weekend, I long to celebrate that home even though he’s no longer with us.

I considered a trip to the cemetery to visit Dad’s gravestone but changed my mind and visited my parents’ home instead.  I visited the room where he (still) stores his books.  Inside this modestly sized room, this hidey-hole that he used to gleefully call his “cave,” I find book catalogues, tomes of history, bibliographies galore, and pamphlets on minerals.  I find the pulse of the man because he always had his hands on these particular artifacts of his particular life.  I sit on his faded spot on his comfy couch and remember him in his terrycloth blue bathrobe—and instantly, magnificently, I am home.

Frost was wise, wasn’t he?

Today I celebrate that I was and am always welcome to visit any of my family members, especially my mom.  When I moved from New York to California and attended grad school, I camped out in my parents’ guest room and devoted myself to my studies.  Years later when I got divorced I slept for two years on their living room floor while I saved for a condo.  And now that I have a house fifteen minutes away from the place where my mom lives, she still lights up with delight to have me—even when I am not such a bundle of joy to behold.  Even on those days when I appear on her doorstep with arms full of problems.  “Of course you’re always welcome here,” she says.  “It’s still your home too.”

That being said, today I also celebrate a different kind of home, the world of my own books.  A virtual world, you could say, but not in the traditional way.  Just picture this: in addition to the brick and mortar homes and homes of reminiscence and homes of love and friendship, there is the home of the stories we writers retreat to in our heads.  Okay, maybe it’s a little bonkers, as dear Dad would say.  But…it’s true!  I do have that small place in my own mind, that refuge of infinite proportions, that imaginary world that welcomes me any time I need to go there.

Like today, for instance. I knock gently on the door to one of my ongoing stories—Which one?  What happens next?  How does it look?  Follow the winding path—and then I go inside. Sometimes I hesitate.  Sometimes I don’t know what to say.  Sometimes I’m too restless to enjoy.  Or maybe I’m not helping anybody else by being there.  But always, or nearly always, I feel…settled.  Embraced.  Ready to kick back and indulge in some milk and cookies and watch the circus of personalities all around me.  Home.

Like here right now.  Happy Birthday, Dad.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Enjoy Home, everyone…

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