All I ever wanted was just to come in from the cold

So, I’ve been on a Joni Mitchell kick today.

I am probably an odd Joni Mitchell fan; the first album of hers that I bought was Dog Eat Dog, which got a rather tepid reception from critics and didn’t sell well. I think I liked the theme of anti-consumerism that ran through so many of the songs. Later, I bought Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm and then, when I got an iPod and iTunes became my crack, Hits. I discovered my favorite song of hers from that compilation, “Come in from the Cold,” which was originally on the 1991 album Night Ride Home, and today I’ve been listening to it constantly. It’s perhaps a bad habit of mine: I latch onto a song I particularly  like, and I will listen to it into the ground. Seriously, if you looked at my play log in iTunes, you would see that I’ve listen to “Fever” by Kylie—well, perhaps you don’t need to know how many times (oh, fine, 181 times) I’ve listened to it. And those don’t take into account the listens on the CD.

Where was I? Oh yes, Joni.

Anyone who knows me realizes that home is a concept I return to often, both in my writing and my life. We moved around a lot. Home was wherever my family was. When I was in college and my parents were in London, well, even though I hadn’t ever lived there before, that was home. They’re in Washington state now, and in a way I can’t explain, that’s home. (When they’re gone, where will home be? I don’t know. Believe me, I’ve wondered.)

No wonder either, then, that Detours, my first novel, was all about where you find and call home. For me, home is also here, in St. Louis, where I live with Michael and our two dogs. I guess I’m a bit fragmented when it comes to the GPS coordinates for home, but I know where it is when I think about it. It’s wherever the people I love are.

So when my friend ‘Nathan was visited at his home by some religious zealots who didn’t cotton onto the idea that he was gay and married, well, my inner Dark Willow felt like getting her flay on. Home is the place where you feel safe. It’s where you don’t have to explain yourself, justify yourself, or place conditions on who you are. And these people brought the conditional tense right to his doorstep.

I probably would not have reacted quite as diplomatically as he did in that situation. (In my badass state of mind, I would likely be facing assault charges. In reality, I probaby would just have pointed out that I don’t believe in their god and shut the door in their faces.)

The more I think about it, though, I feel sorry for the people who knocked on his door, because they will never be open to the kindness and generosity of spirit engendered in people like ‘Nathan. What a poverty for them.

“Is this just vulgar electricity? Is this the edifying fire?” If I’ve learned anything, it’s that home is not a particular place or building or even a person. It’s not wherever someone else is; it’s whereveram. And wherever that is, those I consider my friends and family will always have a place where they can come in from the cold.

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