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An Argument for Vagrancy, an Argument for Home

February 17, 2013

Dara Lehrer ’16

Back when I was a sophomore or a junior in high school some friends of a friend did something completely unexpected-- they ran away to the East Coast. They dropped out of high school, bought some Greyhound bus tickets, and vowed to never live by anyone else's rules again.

At that moment, when they left everyone and everything behind, I bet they must have felt pretty empowered. I think I would too. Simplicity is a beautiful thing.

But what happens when simplicity becomes more complicated than one originally expected? What happens when you realize you have traded away your old set of problems for a new set? Do you sojourn on? Or do you return home?

vagrancy |ˈvāgrənsē||
1 without a settled home or regular work; wandering from place to place and living by begging

home |hōm|
1 the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household

Lately, I've been thinking quite a bit about home. When I think about home in a traditional sense, I remember the seven days I have collectively spent in Tucson during the past six months. When I think about home in an untraditional sense, I think about myself.

I've always been a traveler, but now I think I've crossed the line into vagrancy. I don't, as some vagrants are known to do, live by begging for food, but I do have a habit of wandering from place to place.

Living out of a suitcase or a box or what have you is, as I've learned, kind of stressful. It's hard to settle into a place impermanently. Even as I sit here typing in my dorm room I am thinking about how soon enough I will have to move all of my stuff out of here, and back into the boxes and suitcases from where it all came.

My books, my clothes, my hair even, are scattered all over the place-- all over my room, my friends' rooms, my room in Tucson. It's hard not to be scatter-brained when everything else seemingly is.

I've come to realize that home has little to do with where your belongings are, or even where you sleep or eat or poop. Home is a fleeting feeling; it's warm and calming, and comes from within. Like Mary Poppins, I carry around an enormous bag filled with everything I could ever possibly need. Unlike Mary Poppins, however, the bag is inside of me.

Like my friend's friends who ran away to the East Coast, I have decided I don't need anything to be at home. I just need myself.

That doesn't mean I'm home all the time, but it does mean that maybe someday I will be. Being comfortable is not an easy thing to do, and sometimes my brain looks like my floor-- covered in stuff. Having the strength to clean up inside your head and sever all of the negative thought loops and stress patterns is really hard, but is necessary in finding home.

Sometimes, if we're lucky, our home coincides with the location where all of our toiletries and other worldly possessions are kept. Other times, though, home is only a feeling. Sit down, find your breath, and remember that you are all you've got 24/7/365.

The inner-- what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.

-by Rainer Maria Rilke

Responses to this Entry

I love the idea of an internal Mary Poppins bag! (When I was a teenager I told people I wanted to be Mary Poppins when I grew up. (I still want to be Mary Poppins when I grow up, people just don't ask me anymore.))

I spent a lot of time my freshman year thinking about home and the concept of a place of origin that is also something like a home - not so much in an "I've lived there" way, but more like in a "my family/ancestry is deeply rooted there and that means it was a large part of the way I was raised" way. Specifically, I was thinking about the German word Heimat, but English doesn't have a direct translation for it. Cultural heritage also has something to do with it.
...All of this thinking was responsible for me declaring a German Studies major, actually - and taking a ton of courses about German culture has, as it turns out, helped me to understand some important things, including that you're right: home is a feeling, not a place. And the best kind of home is the one you find in yourself.

Posted by: Ida on February 27, 2013 12:40 PM

Hi Dara. Your post explains an idea I have had for a while now, but have never been able to put into words. I'm a senior at a tiny high school in Texas and a poet. Rilke is mind-blowing and intense. Thanks for this. It means more than you might suspect.

Posted by: Faith on November 30, 2013 4:33 PM

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