Moving Days by
10
(22 Stories)

Prompted By Moving Day

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“And I’m wasted, and I can’t find my way home.” (Steve Winwood)

I’d been flying into closed windows, falling to the ground momentarily dazed, then picking myself up and taking flight again.

 

On top of a homing pigeon’s beak are tiny particles of iron oxide that align to magnetic north, similar to a man-made compass. Some scientists believe this is how they find their way home.

 

A few years ago. I sat in front of a plastic bin bulging with paper correspondence I’d accumulated over a lifetime — birthday and holiday cards, and letters from friends, family, and exes, some complete sets bound by pretty ribbon or brittle elastic band, others random one-offs.

Determined not to be thrown off track by the threatening avalanche of memories, after skimming the contents of envelopes addressed to me at each of the more than 35 places I’d lived, I tore out my mailing address from each envelope, one per address, then arranged the torn-out pieces on a lightly textured collage I’d started long ago but never finished, layers of paper and paint, whites on whites. I had no idea where this was going but moved the pieces around until, without much thought on my part, they began to form a rough circle. A circular timeline? Maybe; that could work. Then it began to resemble a flower, each address a petal. Why not? I glued each piece in place, brushed on some paint and scraped in some texture, enjoying the push/pull of adding and taking away, obscuring but not hiding. There, it was done. Wait, not quite. I drew a slew of tick marks — one-two-three-four-cross stroke — the symbol I’d appropriated for “many.” Many this, many that.

Nestled within each petal lies a story with an arc of its own, a getting there, a bringing, a view of something, a nearest grocery store, payments in fact or implied, arrangements of things, a hierarchy of necessities and luxuries, a society, a someone or lack thereof, a packing, a leaving, and something left behind.

For most of my adult life, I’d been flying into closed windows, falling to the ground momentarily dazed, then picking myself up and taking flight again.

I’m not sure what Winwood had in mind, but for me, home is peace of mind.

Profile photo of Barbara Buckles Barbara Buckles
Artist, writer, storyteller, spy. Okay, not a spy…I was just going for the rhythm.

I call myself “an inveterate dabbler.” (And my husband calls me “an invertebrate babbler.”) I just love to create one way or another. My latest passion is telling true stories live, on stage. Because it scares the hell out of me.

As a memoirist, I focus on the undercurrents. Drawing from memory, diaries, notes, letters and photographs, I never ever lie, but I do claim creative license when fleshing out actual events in order to enhance the literary quality, i.e., what I might have been wearing, what might have been on the table, what season it might have been. By virtue of its genre, memoir also adds a patina of introspection and insight that most probably did not exist in real time.

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Characterizations: moving, well written

Comments

  1. Marian says:

    Wow, Barbara, you have me beat by a mile, and I thought I’d moved a lot … I totally agree with you that home is peace of mind, and peace of mind for us seems to be between the ears rather than a place.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    I love this commentary on your thoughts of home, homing and the many places you’ve called home. How lovely that you made a collage/art work out of your former addresses, Barbara. I made something, not nearly as compelling, out of misspellings of my last name!

    There is almost a dream-like quality to this piece. And I love Winwood’s song, too.

    • Thanks, Betsy…I especially appreciate your comment re the dream-like quality. I love that you made something out of the misspellings of your last name…it’s fun (and cathartic) to turn something irritating or troubling into something else. Would love to see it if you care to share but if not, I understand…I’ve made a lot of stuff I wouldn’t share for one reason or another!

  3. Suzy says:

    Well, today it’s your turn to supply the earworm. I love that Blind Faith song, and it has been running through my head all day. I also love your fun fact about the homing pigeon’s beak, and most of all, I love your wonderful collage made of all the addresses you have had. Thank you so much for all of it!

    • Thanks, Suzy! Not a bad earworm to have. Did you know there’s a difference between magnetic north and true north? And true north can also be used to describe a romantic notion, as in soul mate. I’m so glad you like the collage, it was a fun approach to the prompt as there were waaaay too many moving days to detail. Half of the time I didn’t have room for all my stuff and it went into storage, so there was always that move, too. I once had so much in storage that I finally put an ad on craigslist that someone could have it all for free but they had to take it ALL, no picking thru it. Somebody scored…lots of really good stuff to sell at tag sales, etc.

  4. John Shutkin says:

    Beautiful. What a brilliant concept for a collage, Barbara. And, wow, 35 moves.

    And, as Suzy noted, thanks for the terrific earworm. It has now chased out all the horrible Abba tunes stuck in there from watching Mamma Mia with my wife last week.

  5. Thanx Barbara, your story had me thinking about the meaning of home.

    I blogged about an experience my husband and I had many years ago at a human potential weekend with a group called Lifespring, an offshoot of EST.

    The facilitator said, Home is not the place you return to, it’s the place you operate from.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    I love what you did in your collage, Barbara. While in Florida last week, we visited a museum in Sarasota that featured an exhibit by Vik Muniz. His work was amazing and much of it was photographed collages which revealed a different many intricate pieces of writing or photos that combined to create a larger work when you viewed them from afar. Poor description. Wow, 35 moves. And here I am whining about what will likely be my first move in over 45 years.

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