To be far from home is a relative concept, a highly personal one. When I am far from mine I return to the pages that take me there. From a rolling green Shire, to the starkly beautiful kingdom of Rohan. I pulls carrots and radishes from Mr McGregor’s garden, and escape through Platform 9 3/4s. I read the words that made up my childhood, as a touchstone which wrangles the world into some sort of manageable familiarity.
I have never been away from my family for this long. I take it one day at a time, a practice I rely on when life becomes overwhelming, chaotic or unrelentingly shitty. It works quite well for me, yet here we are, cabernet sauvignon and an ache in my chest that would best be expressed in some guttural, animal cry. It’s familiar to me; I would name this feeling grief.
What soothes me now is the joy of writing, and reading. When I’m on a roll, it’s a giddy high bordering on mania. I’m especially grateful for that gift now. I’m also grateful for the hundreds of things, big and small, that have given me the safety I have now. I hold that little flame of gratitude while mourning for all of us, and missing my family with a bone deep intensity, while falling in love with my work, while comfort reading.
All these things are held at once, though I may drop one from time to time.
Here is my comfort reading list:
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose
The Country Girls trilogy by Edna O’Brien
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Emma by Jane Austen
The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Bibliostyle by Nina Freudenberger Sadie Stein
Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
And for the (inner) child…
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem
The collected works of Beatrix Potter
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame