In my forthcoming memoir, Under the Birch Tree, I explore the discovery of connections and their meanings in my life. Growing up on Carlisle Avenue, I deem a birch tree, not only my buddy, but also synonymous with home. I would carry this first connection, a catalyst for many others, through the decades.
Home, by definition, takes on several meanings. We can define home as where one lives permanently, where one grew up, or a resting place. While living in my girlhood home, I learn home is not limited by a strict definition.
I was a walker. I’d walk around my house, weaving through the backyard of willow trees, a maple, the black wrought iron table and chairs, the patio, around the side of the house to the front yard and driveway, noting any changes that might have occurred since the last time I passed by. I marked my outside home and its boundaries with every step traveled.
Home is also inside the house where a landscape of living set the permanence of my resting place. My room was made up of all that was me: Nancy Drew mysteries on the middle shelf of my bookcase, dolls on the top shelf from all over the world that Dad had brought back from his trips, Bobby Sherman records on the floor beneath the record player, a small glass terrarium suspended by a plastic string hung over the window’s lock. Sitting in my bedroom upon a speckled yellow and white carpet enveloped by buttercup yellow walls, I am home by all that surrounds me, all that is me.
Ultimately, we find home through the connections we make. I write, “My young-girl self understood that my home was defined by the physical, the material possessions and places and rooms, but in my young adulthood I learned that people, a family of connections and community, were also home.” I begin my young life with learning that home takes on many meanings because of the connections we make.
We learn early in our lives how to connect with home – inside and outside. Establishing these connections forms the root of our growth and as we grow, so do our connections and their meanings. Maturing to young adulthood, friendships and relationships are connections learned to be unconditional. Into adulthood, connections can tell a story, inspire creativity, enable you to move forward. And as an older adult, connections are links to self-understanding.
My story shows what these connections are, how I made them, revealing my reflections on their meanings. From the beginning, starting with my birch tree, to where I connect to myself, I find home.
My birch buddy is my home, carrying me through the decades, from which all connections grow.