Saturday, December 20, 2008


There's something about home that's entirely debilitating. Not my home, exactly, not the specific set of rooms and furnishings that my mom has put together over the years. I just mean home. Being home. Something about it sends me dashing towards the other side of the spectrum, towards—not depression, but languor.

When I'm home, I find myself full of ideas and intentions but barely able to lift a finger towards them. The small bursts of energy and ambition I get are indeed small, about enough to lift a body over towards the TV and flip a few switches before abandoning said body into the sweet entropic descent that is Dr. Mario. Which is what I inevitably do. (I think I beat the computer on hard mode about 70 times this week, no exaggeration.)

Despite repeated attempts to get up early and begin doing things, I find myself sliding towards the wee hours of the morning and the single digits of the afternoon. Despite long lists of to-do's and goals and projects and destinations, despite ample room and resources, despite a wide open schedule and the realization that this is the time people are always talking about—"when I'm finally not so busy"—despite all of this I find I can't move from my chair. I can't get out of bed. I can't dial the phone.

This wouldn't be a problem if I was merely on vacation, home for a week or two here and there to just fritter about lazily, going out to eat nine times a week, attending parties and reunions and such in the short span between semesters. But I'm not really on vacation. I'm out of school for nearly five months a year: three in the summer and two in the winter. Technically I should be working—if not actually out there doing a nine-to-five, I should at least be writing, knocking chunks out of my soon-due thesis. I should be reading and writing and furthering my life's work, tuning up some serious hobbies. And if not any of that, I should be playing with my 12 nieces and nephews during the short time that they're young and I'm here. I should be assembling the basketball goal that no one's been able to assemble at my sister's; I should be painting family's living rooms and mowing their yards; I should be making myself, if not useful, at least helpful.

So why can't I? What is it about home that debilitates?

I once had three theories to try and explain this. One had to do with the idea of going home as putting on your old skin, of inhabiting old habits when in old places. I've felt this a lot in past years, but I think it's wearing off, or at least being updated as time goes on. See, the idea is that it's hard to be yourself when you go home because the self you used to be when you lived there encroaches on your present self. You sleep in old beds in old rooms and start acting like a teenager again.1

Another theory has to do with the suburbs. I read a book by Žižek a year or so ago that made no sense to me at the time. It was about how modern society has replaced what's real with what is imagined to be real and how big things like 9/11 shock us into seeing beyond the suburban spectacle for an instant before the seeing beyond becomes the spectacle and the real is hidden behind the thought of the real again, etc. etc. (You see why I didn't understand it, yes?) Anyway, it didn't really make sense, and I really didn't read much of the book at the time, but when I went home a few weeks later for break, suddenly it hit me one day what he was talking about and why the suburban life might be dangerous at times. It really freaked me out.

The third theory actually has nothing to do with this.

Phew. It took me all day to write this. Every time the thoughts were there the energy wasn't, and every time the energy was there I just wanted to go drop pills on some viruses. Which is what I plan to do right now.

1Which is why, if you want my advice, it's "Move out."


Liz said...

I think everytime I try to comment on your blog it comes off sounding rude. I don't know why. Only in my last post was I going for sarcasm with a hint of irritation and that's just b/c I like spending time with you and especially having you TALK to me, the real kind of talk where you actually share feelings or at least information about yourself, and I was trying to point out that I wish you would do that more.
Okay, now that I've written an essay and said the equivalent of "no offense", I just want to concur. When I am anywhere but my home my head is so full of ideas, and my body so full of energy. But as soon as I get within 5 feet of my front door it's like someone pulled a cork and it all just drains out of me. I feel like yelling, "I'm melting!!! Melting!!!
Oh well. What can you do?

Janssen said...

Bart's parents have Dr. Mario and I spend an embarrassing amount of time playing it when we are there. In fact, I'd forgotten they had it and now you've made me all excited to go see them after Christmas.

Jennifer said...

Home means you don't actually HAVE to do anything on the list, so, well, why do them? Nobody makes you. You finally get to relax. It always seems like there is tons of time to get it done. Why do you think you only see us maybe once a week? We can't leave home!

Gillz said...

Fortunately for me, the family I feel obligated and excited to fortify relationships with at home is my 16-year-old brother who is best bonded with through playing Nintendo. Or rather, the XBox360. But isn't it all really "Nintendo" to our generation? Is that a girl thing not to clarify the correct video gaming console?

In any case, I wish I had a dozen nephews or nieces to drag along on my feet, but there is nary a one in my immediate fam. So Fable II and Zelda it is. Guilt-free family time and lazy pajama days. If only I had a single lesson plan for when I move to teach in Rexburg two weeks from now. Watch for my blog when I start to panic attack over THAT.

amy said...

So, why do you go home when you're on break? Especially if you know it's going to be your dibilitating excuse to be lazy?

Are suberbs an American phenomenon? most other places, people live in an apt in the city near work and consumerism, and then vacation to their cabin or house or whatever in the country or woods, or Bath...

if that's the case, isn't it rather a move to a family-centered life? at worst, a way to get away from the urban jungle and see trees and grass, and a blue sky...

and, i say this with all the love in my heart, Dave if you want to change, change (that's kind of what the big A is for).