I pick up a stone in every new place I go and bring it home with me. It is a way of remembering. A souvenir that cobbles together a bit of the energy of each patch of earth I have passed over. As if there will someday grow a whole from these parts, I pile them together in incense dishes—there is the one from Stonehenge and the one from Bath, the one from the Catacombs in Paris, a hunk of Redwood from Big Sur, a sea-worn chunk of shell from Waikiki, a sunset orange stone from that time I drove across the country and stopped in Albuquerque, a drop of silver with the word FRIEND carved into it given me by someone who I called by that name, a blue marble from my Ex, some stones I can no longer identify. But there is no stone from Savannah and no stone from Palo Alto. These places are such a part of me, that I am the stone.
I went to Margaret Mitchell’s former home on the Kentucky River because I was there for the Kentucky Women Writer’s conference. During my trip I got to re-connect with an old friend who asked me what my book is about. I told her: it is about my mother who is selfish, and addicted and mendacious and wounded and insane and brilliant and fragile and larger than life and a great storyteller and beautiful and supportive and gifted and who has taught me the greatest lesson: You must let others love you the way they love you, rather than the way you wish they would love you.
As I was headed home today, I thought about how that unconditional love is what is so comforting about home. Old friends know who we are and they accept us and love us in spite of our flaws. In fact, I have one friend who likes to say that the things we think people love us in spite of are actually the things people love us for, and the things we think people love us for are actually the things they love us in spite of.
In my pile of stones there is a peach pit my mother sent me not too long ago. It is a different kind of stone. The stone of a fruit. Literally, it is the seed of re-birth. Couldn’t tell you why she sent it. But every time I look at it I think of her.
I believe I have always been searching for home: a place where I feel safe and warm and seen. Writing this book has helped me to find it. And if I forget there is a little pile of stones and shells and one odd seed to remind me where I came from.