Write On, Wednesay: Special New Series (1/5)–Defining HOME featuring Caroline Leavitt

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By Leslie Lindsay  (image source: www.alphabetart.com 9.4.13)

I have a giant grin on my face today.  Other than the fact that I have the house to myself, a laptop, brain (let’s hope), and basset hound at my feet, I have a new series to share on Wednesdays!  It’s all about the concept of HOME. 

Ever notice how nearly every book you read has some element of home buried deep within the words on the page?  Your reading material may have something to do with big green monsters eating every chocolate chip cookie and then running off to school, but I would wager that those monsters began at say…home?!  The book I just finished reading (Tanya Chernov’s A REAL EMOTIONAL GIRL) had almost everything to do with home (but was largely masked by her grief over her late father).  The next book I picked up, BRAIN ON FIRE (Susannah Cahalan)  might really be about her lost month of insanity, but delve into the pages, and you see an underlying theme of home…her junky New York studio, her childhood home, it all makes an appearance. 

So, I’ve gathered up a handful of great wordsmiths to tell me, in their own words, what defines “home.” 

Each week, I will share a new passage on home.  So, gather ’round, make yourself comfortable and get ready for Caroline Leavitt, Amy Sue Nathan, Karen Brown, Tanya Chernov, and Matt Wertz to tell us their ideas of home…

Today’s featured author…Caroline Leavitt!!  Caroline is a New York Times bestselling author of ten red shirt gardennovels, her most recent IS THIS TOMORROW?  (Which revolves mostly around the concept of ‘home,’ in 1950’s suburbia).  She hosts a robust blog in which she features many authors and their books.  And now…take it away, Caroline!

“For many years, the word home to me meant my parent’s house. Stuck in Suburbia. The rooms coldly silent or torn apart by arguments. I couldn’t wait to leave, to live a life as different as I could imagine. I rented a tiny shoebox apartment in Manhattan, with a slanted floor and barely a kitchen, and when friends gamely said, ‘You could do something with this to make it homey,’ I laughed, because I had no desire to be domestic. As long as my dwelling looked nothing like my family’s, I knew I was safe.

Ah, but then I fell in love. Jeff was the kind of person who took one look at my fridge, with its one carton of yogurt and one loaf of bread, and made a date of shopping, assuring me that it could be fun. Falling in love was a surprise, but suddenly, my tiny apartment wasn’t big enough for us, the rents in Manhattan were too high for the three bedroom we wanted, and we began to look elsewhere. I wanted to look for apartments in Brooklyn or Hoboken, but In the early 90s, you could buy a whole brownstone in Hoboken for 200,000. You could buy a three story 1865 brick row house for $125,000, one with fireplaces in every room, with rosettes on the ceiling.

Houses. I knew what that meant. My parents’ life had unraveled in a house.ITTUSE

I was terrified to move in. I thought that we’d start to argue, that I’d be tied down and domesticated.

Instead, something else happened. Jeff filled the kitchen with food, the rooms with furniture, and my life with love. I began to like having people for dinner, having a kitchen big enough for two to laugh and cook in it. And slowly, I began to realize something. That I didn’t have to turn out to be my mother. That family is not always genetic. And that love can make the house you were most afraid of into the home you love.”

For more information on Caroline and her writing, please see her website:  http://www.carolineleavitt.com/home.htm

[Special thanks to Caroline Leavitt for providing this piece, photos, and her literary enthusiam.  This is an original work by the author and not to be taken as your own.]

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