What is home

I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana an hour or so away from New Orleans.  It was hot and humid the food and the accents were rich.  My parents are still in the house I was raised in and my sister and her husband and children live two doors down.  I “attended” Louisiana State University (my freshman year was the two best years of my life) and partied and shacked up and skipped class and eventually dropped out and moved to Chicago.  I was in Chicago for two years before moving to New York where I have lived for the last twenty two years.

When I first arrived in the city I was dripping with southern gooeyness.  I used the word “ya’ll” religiously and sat propped up on bar stools flipping my golden locks and telling stories about my daddy and growin’ up listenin’ to country music.  I would go “home” for way too long in the summer (because that’s really the ideal time to go back south) and hang out with old friends drinking in the LSU bars I used to frequent.  I belonged to nobody and I let geography determine what part I would play that day.  I was madly in love with New York but there was something I still wanted from Louisiana.  It could be that I never felt I really belonged, that since I was such a screw up growing up I still had to rewrite the past.  Each time I went to visit I would inevitably end up on the phone with the airline (pre 9/11) extending my stay.

What I loved most about Manhattan was the anonymity.  I walked everywhere constantly surrounded by crowds but never had to speak to a soul.    Somewhere along the way everyone I knew moved away from the south or lost touch with me and the infrequent high school reunions became a source of social anxiety.  I dropped the “ya’lls” and adopted the neutral tone of the north.  I became a damn yankee.   Somewhere along the way I realized that it didn’t much matter what I was acquiring in my grown up life (house, husband, kids) I still had no clue who I was and without my family of origin and that house in the suburbs of Baton Rouge I was nobody.  My identity still wrapped up in being the youngest, the nicest and the least accomplished clashed with being a mother, wife and woman.

 

Back in the saddle

For the past eight and 3/4 years my brain has been mush. I moved out of Gotham to a two family dwelling in Bayonne, New Jersey with my waspy husband, black lab and swollen belly.  A few months later a little girl was cut out of my stomach and I never looked back.  We’ve added one more child and finally own a dilapidated home in the Hudson Valley.  It’s time for me to exhale.  Forgive me if I’m rusty this may be the most creative thing I’ve done in the last decade.

Anyone who knew the former me would say that I have changed for the better.  For instance I no longer sleep with random strangers and I am sober more than I’m drunk.  I have been able to keep two children safe, fed and sheltered.  This is no small feat for a girl like me.

I used to act and write.  I was in theatre companies appearing in new plays and old plays and a not so great film or two.  I followed the Artist’s Way and wrote my morning pages religiously on the train headed to my temp job du jour.  My lack of commercial (or critical) success comes as no surprise.  I would wait on line at 4 am for the Equity auditions but it was usually after drinking til midnight.  I never had a properly prepared audition piece.  Various magazines rejected my short story submissions and I lost my morning pages in a West Village bar.  But at least I tried.  I’m trying again.