I step out into the dusk, clutching a cup of cold steeped tea in one hand, a black zip up hoodie in the other. I settle on cement steps, startled by their persistent heat collected from the cloudless day in late July. They warm my butt through holy jeans. I am stoop-sitting, waiting for traveling poets to arrive at my home, one of countless stops on a cross country tour. I wonder would they count each stop as home?
I count the number of homes I have ever lived in – I’m on # 21, planning for 22 in two months, knowing 23 will follow this coming winter. It could be said I know I’m home when I know it’s temporary.
I like to think that, given the choice, I would choose against all of the moving. I could open a thrift store with the amount of gizmos, gadgets, kitchenware, furniture, boxes, keepsake knickknacks I have hauled, lost or gotten stolen from me across three corners of this country, thinking they make a home. It could be said I know I’m home when I open, unpack, and breakdown a cardboard box.
But I’ve always had somewhere to go, some door in some city that has opened when I twisted some key in my possession through its toothy barricade, some cushioned horizontal surface that I could stretch out on for hours without questions – does the generosity of friends make me more or less homeless?
The first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a truck driver. The second was a pilot. Each uncle parked their shiny rigs in their Tulsa driveways in between gigs. Every grandfather a soldier, a sailor, a pilot. My family has always moved for a living. It could be said I know I’m home when I’m operating a moving vehicle.
And then there’s this house, this 21st address in this 8th city, this string of broken promise, of rules shifting midstream, of dead rabbits and dead crows and dead neighborhood dogs, of surprise basement floods and outstanding cleaning charges, of lingering odors and vanishing items, of bounty of flowers, herbs, food, fruit, of a wild yard none of us were willing to contain. So soon, it’s time to go already.
What is home? Four walls? Foundation? “Family?” Television and couches and books and food and more stuff to disappear into? A wall of unopened cardboard boxes. 23 places in 34 years. 6 in the last 12 months. An unquestioned unthreatened horizontal space. A swollen key ring. A capacity to swallow. A fist-sized hole, a faint smell of urine, a growl echo. Where I can do what I need to do for me to be me. A collection of places to which one belongs, an understanding of belonging that involves the self. An understanding of, and identity with, the self. Home is never belonging anywhere so keep moving. Home is a moving target whatever it is I am leaving. Home has four wheels and seats that retract a tent blanket and sleeping bag in the back. Home is a tent-pitched flat patch. Home gets parked under giant redwood. Home steps out of the car, looks up and lifts itself into the silent placental canopy. Home, in the face of infinite and selfless light, becomes a quiet accidental smile on the tilt of an upturned chin. It becomes mine. It becomes me.
Marcuse, in Eros and Civilization
“Private disorder reflects … the disorder of the whole, and the cure of personal disorder depends … on the cure of the general disorder.”
I move out into the sun and wind of Clifton and Grand. One hit, then a search for a stoop upon which to sit, then a cigarette. A Commodified Prayer. What does the Release of Commodification look like? At the northern crown, Family Wealth created an Institut(e)ion. We are Accountable to That. Institute of Tobacco (Duke, Durham, NC). Of Oil and Sugar. Of Coffee and Cocoa. Of Fuel. Economy. Machine. The Machinification of the Body. The Commodity of the Body. The Commodification of the Prayerful Body.
Commodification. Co-modification. To Collaboratively Alter. To Change Together. To Change, in the Attempt of Togethering. Merger. Combine. To Be Made Valueable. To Be Given Worth.
Commodification. To become a Commodity.
Commodification. Common Edification. Common-making.
I think of Albert’s Einstein’s brain, preserved in a jar in a university lab in New York City. He died in 1955. I wonder how the scientists preserved his brain: with the best they knew of at the time. Waiting, hoping, for the technology to one day be invented so as to study this brain, his brain, without inflicting damage. I think they can do that now. Take 3d pictures and images of things without dissecting the actual organ. MRIs and Cat Scans and shit.
I think of the NYU Department of Neuroeconomics. Gathering neuroscientists, doctors, economists, marketers for a collaborative study on the Decision-Making of the Human Animal. Their words, not mine.
I think of how, according the website of the American Economic Association, the definition of economics does not include one reference to Humans. People. Only Well-Being. Resources.
I think of how, all this time, I haven’t fundamentally understood myself as real. A collective vessel of electricity moving through the spaces of earth. A collection of sensation and perception and memory with illumination and mass and force and impact. Influence. How this whole time the anaesthesia has been slowly wearing off. Every damn day, Waking Up.
Cecily Schuler is a genderqueer writer and spoken word artist, raised and based in South Florida. Their work is featured in Jai Alai Magazine, Winter Tangerine, the Offing, great weather for MEDIA and elsewhere. Cecily received their MFA in Writing from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, and has attended residencies at Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, the Home School: Miami, and the Vermont Studio Center. They are the winner of the Inaugural National Poetry Month Online Slam (2018), the 2016 Vox Pop Individual Slam Champion, and have repped and coached teams for Seattle and New York City. As a 2017 Brooklyn Poets Fellow, Cecily is currently working on a full-length experimental poetic memoir. Their first chapbook, 296, is available on Next Left Press.