Where Your Home Begins

Where Your Home Begins
C. W. Lewis Lumber sign, between Bauxite and Benton, Arkansas circa 1996.*

I went to great lengths quite some time ago to find this photograph. It exists only as a negative. As I recall I couldn’t bring myself to print it. After I started to really embrace my new home in upstate NY I shot the negative with a macro lens and worked on it a bit in photoshop because I don’t currently have a negative scanner. I really wanted to write about it, and the circumstances of its production. For better or worse, arriving in upstate New York was the culmination of a horribly twisted journey, and I have been hell-bent (even with my serious reservations about the place) on calling New York home.

California was my home for 37 years. John Hiatt pegged it though: there’s nothing to do but turn around. Just about the time the Internet was coming into everyone’s consciousness, I hitched my dreams to a sculptor in Arkansas. As everyone around me knew, but I wouldn’t admit, these things seldom end well. I found myself unemployed, penniless, divorced, and without a car struggling to make a comeback of sorts. My father spotted me the downpayment and signed for a loan to get me a car, and I secured a job while staying with of my soon-to-be ex-wife. As was/is my usual way of making sense of things, I often got into my car just to drive. Just past the turn-off to a road leading to the man that ultimately won the woman I loved (only fair, he was her husband after all) headed toward the place I thought I was going to call home I saw a sign in the woods.

I pulled over and wept. I took this photograph and wondered if I was ever going to feel at home again. Arkansas was a strange place that never really felt like home. It was close to my family, and I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with them before they passed away. I’m grateful to Arkansas for making it possible for me, at such an advanced age, to go back to school and try to find a new way to be. I never got the chance in California; I was too busy just being. I’m glad I turned around, though for better or worse I never would have imagined that I could end up in New York. Love found me in Arkansas eventually, and that part of my life is better than ever. In the end, Krista is my home, regardless of what place we live in.

*Apparently C.W. Lewis lumber is still there, though C.W. Lewis only ran the place from 1920-1928. The lumber yard around the corner from me here in New York is even older, over 100 years old. I suppose that home always does start somewhere in the trees. I noticed, also, that I actually started trying to resurrect this photo around a year ago. It took me that long to bring myself to write about it I guess.