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Small handwriting sample of Leila's First-Year Student Journals, link to journals home page
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The Happy Woman Who Lived in the Shoe

This is about the time that seniors in high school are getting those life-changing thin envelopes or those fat packets complete with post jigging rituals.

Boy, am I glad that I am past that.

Now is a time of peace. Sure, maybe I’m working on a few scholarships or preparing to make waves at the regional Mock Trial competition this weekend (deadlines seem to be ever-present), but I am in the door. I am in UT.

Fewf.

My heart reaches out to those who are in the midst of college applications.

About this same time last year I remember this one particularly meddlesome application essay for UNC Chapel Hill that I had to write.

It read (to this effect): “Robert Frost once wrote in his short story, ‘Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.’ North Carolina’s very own Thomas Wolfe once wrote, ‘You can’t go home again.’ Which author is right? And defend your stance.”

I couldn’t break into it, get my mind around it and transcribe it into words.

Thus I went with the generic option #2: “Write about something significant.”

But the question stayed with me. I am getting closer to the answer.

I have heard many students begin to refer to Austin, Texas, University of Texas, dorm X, as “home”—consciously displacing the house where their parents live.

The definition of home is

a. “The physical structure within which one lives”

b. “an environment offering security and happiness”

c. “to the center or heart of something”

My allegiances to Place X or Place Y have long been abandoned.

Those army brats out there, or businessmen and women with constant relocating job requirements, or traveling circus people, or simply adventurous souls (as is my mother and thus explains the events to follow and thus my ultimate conclusions) might also share my sentiments.

I have lived in many a paradise.

Thus far, I have spent most of my time in Florida and Dallas, but have nested in Portugal; Aspen, Colo.; the Cote d’Azur (Cap d’Antibes); Asheville, N.C.; and now Austin, Texas.

In each place we created a home.

The first time we had to leave and return to Dallas (Dallas being our headquarters) it was very difficult. Life chilled over while I dealt with the separation. But within six months we embarked on another adventure—this time France—to start another home in Villa Samurai.

It was the second time around experiencing “uprooting” that I realized that these homes don’t consist of the stones that constitute them, but the memories and warmth that we take from them.

Home is where the heart is.

Change is inevitable. It is the centrifugal force that nudges or sometimes slings us forward.

We change, others change, places change, circumstances change. So…which stronghold is sturdy enough to house the moments, people and places that we don’t want to change?

Only our hearts are sturdy enough for that job.

And it makes sense that way.

No mortal can resist the hand of God and his determined change. The power of resisting change (in essence, the possessor of the ‘remote control of life’ with the pause button on it) belongs solely to a divine superpower. (I say divine because even Superman doesn’t posses this power.)

I believe this divine superpower resides in our hearts.

The question remains: Are we housed in God’s heart (the figurative sense of ‘heart’)? Or do we house God in our hearts?

Maybe he is that which constitutes our hearts. God is love? The truth stands. The heart transcends the boundaries of man.

So right about now, and from here on out, and since birth only works one way (in so far as once something is born, one can’t challenge that things existence) I feel like the woman that lived in the shoe…

…except the shoe is a heart…and smells like cookies, not shoe.
I have all of these people and memories, smells and sights, running around inside me, making themselves at home.

I am always at home…

Friends may leave our side, but they will never leave our hearts.

Sometimes I wish I could transport back into the tactile world of my memories and indulge in them, soak them in, take detailed notes and absorb everything I might have missed the first time.

A touching piece of writing came to me, in response to these journals, which exactly pinpoints this feeling of nostalgia. It is the nostalgia, or perspective of a dead man, nothing more and nothing less. Simply a man left with only his memories and nothing to do.

This nostalgia awakens what is alive in us, and reminds us to breathe in life with such ardency that you can enjoy it forever knowing that the first time has to be the best time.

Question: Are those of us who aren’t at home in heart any different than those on the street without actual shelter? Are those on the street who are at home in heart any different than us with actual shelter?

All right! Enough late-night reading for you. Go home.

Any questions, comments, ANSWERS, insights into the universe are surely welcomed and greatly appreciated. Leila.w@mail.utexas.edu

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