be a wallflower! jump
on over to the discussion boards
and get decorating help.
by Emily J. Wolf
One of my favorite childhood books was Donald Hall's
The Ox-Cart Man. I flipped through the pages of simple and elegant drawings of an early American family long before I learned to read; by the time I could read it myself, the binding was broken and pages had begun to come detached from the hardcover spine. In the story, a New England farmer goes to Portsmouth to sell his goods
— wool, leather, vegetables, candles — as well as the cart and ox that brought him to market. Saying good-bye to the ox, he kisses it on the nose and heads for home. As a child, I loved this story because of the themes of the eternal cycle of seasons
— the sense that a kind of newness and rebirth comes with every season, every change. As an adult, getting ready to move from the small city where I attended university to one of the biggest of big cities, New York, I turn to
The Ox-Cart Man again because it reminds me that what I'm doing
— this packing and shedding of worldly goods — is as natural as the seasons, and that change will renew me, despite all that I'm casting off in the process.
I have moved exactly eleven times in the past six years. I have moved from dorm room to dorm room (sometimes each semester), and from one apartment to another. I've mastered the twin arts of packing and unpacking, and I can fill out an address change form faster than you would think possible. I've had many addresses, and many more phone numbers. I've become comfortable with these small, in-town moves. They've taught me to imagine myself as a turtle, carrying my shelter on my back; they've taught me to rethink "home" not so much as a physical place, but rather as a mental state. This understanding is what makes this next move so significant: for not only am I changing cities, I am also changing my mental understanding of home. "Home" will no longer be measured in semesters, nor will it include classes, professors, or paper writing
— the known variables that make up the transient life of a student. Instead, my notion of home will depend on new and unknown quantities.
For nearly six years now, I've been here in upstate New York, first as an undergraduate and then as a graduate student. When I first arrived in Binghamton (in a loaded-down, sagging station wagon crammed with every comfort, every book I could possibly imagine ever needing in that new dorm-home), I hated this city. I suffered through my first semester, while I filled out transfer applications for schools in nicer, less rainy places. But I stuck through that first year, and made friends who, in turn, made this tired, upstate city easier to manage.
wandering this way!
lounge . nourish .
. laze . home.