A vast and varying place, such is (my) home

A vast and varying place, such is (my) home

Lydia, the next production in Season 33 Home Is…, opens in just a week. It is a fictional piece that poetically portrays life in playwright Octavio Solis’ childhood home, El Paso Texas. To get in the mood, please enjoy this poetic telling of “What home is for you” by our very own Development Manager, Molly Newgard.

I imagine the river crisscrossing the sea, where palm trees sway and rice paddies dot the landscape.  I remember the humidity’s grip and mosquitos nets’ safe haven. The dust, the sweet, juicy mangoes. My uncharted home; my father’s childhood home of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, in the Philippines Islands.

My eye wanders across the vast cornfields and the warm rain hits my cheek. I chase the errant fireflies.  Inside, the smell of midday pot roast claims the air and I eye the apple pie, cooling on the counter; my carefree summer home, year after year; my mother’s childhood home, in the small town of Manson, Iowa.

We are a cul-de-sac of 8 close-knit families and dozens of kids.  We cardboard slide down the hills of bone-dry grass and play hide-n-go seek as the street lamps flicker.  We climb trees or draw chalk houses and let our imaginations run wild. Where I still return each year, where traces of home remain. Where I came of age, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A brass skeleton key in hand, the answer to new-found independence, thousands of miles away, where the Saone and Rhone traverse the city.  The former heart of Gaul, now a gastronomic hub and cultural enclave.  I am enthralled by this other world that surrounds, the melodic language, the university students who carry satchels, smoke cigarettes and wear fashionable scarves. Ma chere amie, who extends her hand and gives me that key to her home, now my home, in Lyon, France.

Against the backdrop of mid-century architectural feats, we set up shop as grad students, on a shoe-string, with very little but love to call our own. Pilfered furniture, hand-me down dishes, a cheap bookcase over-burdened with medical text books and French novels and art books; a bewildered grey and white cat who hides under the bed.  The summers are too stifling, the winters too brisk, the adjustments often overwhelming. But it is our first home together in Chicago, IL.

It sprawls for miles and miles, with no defined character, an amalgamation of stereotype and the unconventional. The sea and sand in view; each morning the marine layer gives way to watery blue skies. We navigate the city, where the cars drive fast and the commutes are long. “Twenty-something” energy keeps the candle burning at both ends.  Then they arrive, and life changes in every way imaginable.  First one, then another. Where my babies were born, Los Angeles will always be home.

Onward to greener pastures.  Mountains and coast within arms’ reach; art and culture, great food around every corner.  Where we make a house a home; where our children thrive; where our yard transforms into a masterpiece over the years; where the neighbors become best friends; where we cherish the good, conquer adversity and create albums for posterity. Portland, Oregon, our family home.

6800 miles to the south, where for 6 months we find ourselves in the midst of a beautifully reckless city of millions.  Where the castellano dialect permeates café life; where the obsession over fútbol and the conviviality of family reveal an admirable perseverance in the most challenging of economic times; where old world charm bears the markings of Italy and Spain in architecture, in food, in day to day life.  Ah, the smell of parrilla, the acquired taste of fernet. But mostly, it is the warm embrace of the porteños that give us our adopted home in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Home surrounds me; it is the joy of discovering a new place to plants roots, if for a bit of time, or for a lifetime.  Place, where family forms, where friends come and go, where life plays out, where dreams may be realized, where challenges greet us, where lessons are learned, where memories belong, where the heart lives…Home is, indeed, where I make it.

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