As I apply salve to the blisters, June Carter Cash's song petitions the circle to be unbroken in her Southern-honey voice. We light the candles and sit down to supper. We consider the gift-oven's miraculous powers and presence — gifts I did not give us by “fixing” the situation, but which came to us through the generosity of others.
As much as I miss the surety of my childhood idea of home, I am grateful for the tension that stretches me between two continents. I am drawn back not as an explorer or safari gazer who longs for Africa in the naïve and ideal sense, but because I love what Africa has become for us — a place where we belong, a kind of home. And I know that some day when this ritual of returning to Kenya becomes less regular, I will be homesick.
Eight years ago, the life paths of three women — one black, one white, one multi-racial — crossed, and a unique friendship was born. The topic of race was central from the inception, and we shared a fundamental sense that we needed one another as we explored the terrain of race. Despite the fact that many of our conversations over the years have been difficult and sensitive, they’ve also been beautiful.
I do not remember what I said to my mother over the phone, or what Ms. Reed said when I came back to class. What I remember is staring at my desk, the florescent light blurring into a seamless expanse over me, a pencil shaking in my hand. What I remember is the way my mother walked into the office, wordless, a pink sweatshirt bunched between her hands. My mother’s lips were bare and pale, and the sweatshirt hung past my knees.
In so many ways, my ideal home is like the earth itself. Perhaps that is the real reason I eschew plastic and acrylic. Perhaps that is why I love wood and wool. Why I like to see our rooms change with the seasons. I want to remember that I am made from the stuff of earth. I never want to forget that the earth is my God-made home. The sky a tent overhead.