Getting started on home and place

It is Monday afternoon already. Where did the morning go? We’ve been here in Laos five weeks now, and in the midst of all the different beds we’ve been sleeping in and all the suitcases we’ve been living out of, I’ve been trying very hard to keep some things constant:

(A) get up when Mike does at about 6:15; and

(B) keep mornings set aside as “working on the book” time.

Roosters and a restless husband have made the first resolution relatively easy to keep (except on the couple of mornings last week when Mike left our bed in the 3’s – last week was not a good sleep week in our household). But as for the second, I’m starting to wonder whether that one is only going to get more challenging the more we settle into a “real life” routine here.

Last Monday we were still camping out at someone else’s house. Their maid did our laundry and washed the dishes. I had a choice between writing or lying on the bed and staring at the ceiling fan. (Or, to be fair, walking down the street to the Lao Red Cross and getting a massage). But given that not even I can take an entire day of massage, staying focused every morning was easy.

But this Monday morning, at our new place with working internet, there were dishes to be washed, beds to be made, Terms of Reference for consulting projects to be drafted, parents to catch up with, friends in Australia to hear good news from, nutella to get out of the new ant-proof pantry and eat straight from the jar, and handymen to wait for.

(The handymen will, I hope, address the upstairs AC, the broken bed frame, the non-functioning hot water heater, and the toilets – we are down to only one fully functional toilet – before our first guests arrive tomorrow.)

So book time this morning has been a bit squeezed. As in “non-existent”.

And now it’s Monday afternoon and I’m trying to get myself back in book zone. The chapter I’m working on at the moment deals with the theme of home as place. In the first draft of the book this particular chapter opens and closes in Kenya after a brief detour to Tanzania. The middle scene is set primarily in Hawaii. I have not lived any of those places. And I find myself looking at the chapter now knowing it needs significant rewriting and not knowing quite sure where to start.

Mind you, that’s nothing new. When it comes to writing I often don’t know exactly where to start until long after I’ve actually started.

You’d think that knowing this about myself would make it easier to just get on with it and get started writing something. Anything.

It doesn’t.

It makes me yawn and want to write blog posts instead. It makes me want to lie down and read someone else’s book. It makes me look around our place and wonder whether the new plants need water. For, after a weekend packed full of sweaty shopping from roadside stalls we have plants now. And a bamboo bookshelf. And dishes. And a small glass teapot just the right size for me to make myself a pot of tea for when I’m working. And the cutest wood and mesh ant-proof pantry that we’ve carefully stood in plastic bowls full of baby-powder (which sort of ruins the cute look a little, but if kept ants out of the cereal I’ll take it).

But it’s Monday. And I know I’m not going to be able to figure out where to start writing until I after I’ve started writing. So I better get out that teapot, fill it, and (yawn) get started.

But, first, a quote that made me laugh last week.

“One’s home is like a delicious piece of pie you order in a restaurant on a country road one cozy evening – the best piece of pie you have ever eaten in your life – and can never find again.  After you leave home, you may find yourself feeling homesick, even if you have a new home that has nicer wallpaper and a more efficient dishwasher than the home in which you grew up.” Lemony Snicket

Do you feel homesick for your childhood home like this?

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10 responses to “Getting started on home and place

  1. Homesick, yes, but not necessarily for the childhood home/house. The people from all the places I’ve considered home. Particularly missing my California friends right now….

    • I know what you mean. Missing my Australian friends, too. With every move there are more people to miss – which on good days feels like a rich wealth of friends spread all over the place, and on bad days feels like too much loss.

  2. I lived in the same house for the first 18 years, 4 months, and 6 days of my life. I’ve never missed that house, or any other: not even once. In the 20 years after the first address, there were 38 postal addresses. That was the olden days before you could have one e-mail address for life. I’ve “lived” (meaning being in one place more than 180 days) in 10 countries and 7 US states (a couple more than one time). I’ve rented flats (1 – 5 months) in 15 countries. These last 12 months involved buying a condo in one country and renting flats in 3 other countries. “Home” is what I call the place where I sleep on any given night … as in today’s hotel room or friend’s sofa. As Sharla said, real home and homesickness comes from missing people and being unable to be with them … wherever they are or wherever you are.

    • Thanks for this. Gosh, four rentals in the past year!! You’ve inspired me to log my own stats, and write them down, so that the next time I want to remember them I don’t have to use my fingers to count all over again.

  3. I enjoyed this one… home and place.… as a professional “tumbleweed” I can defiantly relate to Marys comments. I’ve owned a blender now in 6 different countries; I think committing to a blender is like settling down. But when I’m asked where home is I have a clear answer, its Sydney, the town where my family are. I’ve not lived there now for half my life now, nor is it where my house is or necessarily where I will live again. But it’s where my family are and also where my memories of them are. Where as the question “where is my community” is a different story. For a community development worker I was challenged for a while by the contradiction of my seeming lack of “ community”. But I do have one and to be technical “community is how it’s defined by the people in it”. My community is not geographical, it’s the connection of people in my world from all its corners… the ones that make me smile, make me laugh, make me strong, challenge me when its clearly needed and make me wish I could sit still in one country long enough for them to be able to visit!

  4. I’ve NEVER missed my childhood home. But my story is a bit different. My childhood home represents the place where I was the youngest of 3 children, growing up in a first-generation, Korean immigrant family who were all Buddhist, with the exception of one…me, the one and only born-again Christian. The blood of Christ separated me from my entire family, including aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. It also brought upon 13 years of brutal physical, emotional and verbal abuse as I was threatened daily to be killed or deny Christ. So no, I’ve never missed my childhood home, or that place.

    Despite these horrid events , in the midst of these fierce storms that nearly capsized my life, God regularly worked miracles, protected me and strengthened my faith (as it always is with God). 🙂

    The idea of home and place for me is always where my husband and sons are. Whether it is in sunny California or here in Texas, as long as I’m with my darling husband and beloved sons…I am home. 🙂

    Still praying for you Lisa! ♥

    • Yes, I can see why you would never miss that, and daily be filled with gratitude for the happiness you have found as an adult. Thank you for sharing, Sunny. And for your prayers.

  5. I love this post, Lisa!!! Your words about not knowing where to start writing until you start writing ring so incredibly true to me. I get that quandry all too well. Thanks for being an inspiration to me today. Here’s to settling in, settling down, and getting a bit of work done in the process. Much love.

    • We’re settling, slowly, slowly. I’d forgotten how long this process takes. Before we came here it have been seven years since I moved cities, much less countries. And, as far as inspiration goes, the fact that you are managing to write at all with twins on the scene amazes me. You go!

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