It’s Always Sunny at Home
By: GSA Kristina Mehegan, GSA 2020 Class of Millyard Museum; GSA Intern
As we all know, Governor Sununu issued a stay-at-home order on Friday. This complicates our lives, not only as GSAs, with event cancellations and visitor centers being closed indefinitely, but also as everyday citizens. It’s challenging to work from home, it’s a bit nerve-wracking to buy groceries, and it’s hard not to be able to be in the physical presence of people we love. Yes, these changes complicate our routines, our lives, our habits – but in some ways, they also simplify them.
We’ve been told to stay home. Stay home, stay socially distant. Interact with the loved one you live with, or anyone you want via phone. Keep to your house, your home, your stomping grounds. Simple.
For me personally, life hasn’t changed that much. I’ve been out of school and looking for work since December, and since then – well, I haven’t exactly been a social butterfly. But with this sudden change that’s so jarring for so many, I’ve decided to share a bit of knowledge with which I’ve become intimately familiar over the last three months.
“Home” is bigger than your house. It’s where you live. It’s your neighborhood, your town, your street. The place you walk your dog, your favorite spot to watch the sunset, the place you always stop to admire. It’s the teal house with maroon shutters down the road from you.
“Home” is however far your feet can carry you. Home for me includes the pond a 35-minute walk from my house. Home for me includes a cute little roadside farm a half mile down the road, where we always stop to say “hi” to the donkeys and goats in squeaky, delighted voices. Home is the fact that we affectionately call the donkey Don Quixote even though I’m pretty sure she’s a girl. Home is the 15-mile loop I did on my bike the day before yesterday. You know how many humans I came into contact with? Absolutely none – and I don’t live in the most rural town in our wonderfully rural state. In fact, I live in a suburb of one of our most populous cities.
In NH, where country life and copious trees between houses are the norm, the odds are that if you go out for a stroll, you might only run into to one or two other people. Social distancing need not be compromised to explore the place you call you home!
I know not everyone has a bike, and not everyone can travel all that far from their house, but almost everyone has feet, and everyone has doors that lead outside of their houses. This “stay at home” order is strict, and it should be – but home doesn’t have to just be your house, or your yard, or your block. Home should be the places you learn and explore around your house. The places that become familiar, that you learn to love, as mundane as they are. The part of your walk where you pass a boggy area, or a field, or even just a familiar bench. The little landmarks that one day, when you don’t live here anymore, you’ll seek out hungrily as you pass them in your car, and maybe even point out to the friend in the passenger seat who could not possibly understand the significance of a particular mossy patch, weird-looking house, or willow tree.
In this time when travel is so limited, we need to expand our idea of “home.” Your feet can carry you amazingly far. Your eyes can detect beauty you’ve never noticed in boring and familiar sights. If you don’t have a favorite place to watch the sunset – go find one! If you don’t know where the woods behind your house let out – find out! Go explore! Make new memories. Redefine the places you already know so well.
Courtesy of the NH Folk Show that aired on NHPR on Sunday, this post was inspired by “Garden Song.” I’m partial to the John Denver version, so I put together this little video of beautiful places I’ve seen within walking or biking distance of my house. I like to use the lyrics to think about cultivating love for the great big world that we don’t always notice – a world that’s so close by.