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What Does it Mean to be ‘At Home’ These Days?


Welcome. I write from home because home is where I work, but I’m not always at home any longer. I’ve been to a hardware store this week, a pizzeria, a convenience store and the chandlery for a length of rope, which for someone who’s only been to the supermarket like five times since March seems like a lot of progress. This weekend I’m going to a bookstore. I want to read “Crooked Hallelujah,” by Kelli Jo Ford. I might hit the beach to do it.

What does it mean now, to be “at home”? Some have been at work throughout the pandemic, performing essential services. Others have barely left their bedrooms. People are experiencing the reopening of the country in different ways in different regions. They are responding to it differently, too. Here are the people with no masks, crowding tight near a bar. There is the man sternly saying, “Six feet!” to the woman too close behind him in line outside the bank. Some feel wild with freedom. Others remain cautious, even scared.

Either way, you’ll be home soon enough. What we do there is crucial to our health and well-being, to our happiness, to our sense that there is actually joy and beauty in the world, despite the news cycles telling us otherwise.

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It’s why we watch “Yellowstone,” maybe, to relish the scenery. It’s definitely why we browse Ed Ruscha’s “Every Building on the Sunset Strip,” from 1966, to imagine ourselves in Los Angeles in the sun. It’s why we bake bread, play Spelling Bee and search around the internet to find rare recordings of Joe Thompson playing music with his cousin Odell Thompson. It’s why we make paper airplanes and ponder our “Hamilton” FAQ.


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