a letter to the house

(pardon the lengthy journaling nature of this post…being concise has never been my niche.)

Image

as i write this, i am sitting on an airplane, berkeley bound, with a grove house poetry book upon my lap. as this plane continues to gain altitude and i quietly sit in my window seat, i can’t help but think about home. and, as strange as it seems to me, home may no longer be 2901 Garber Street. even four months ago, the concept that pitzer would be “home” to me seemed absurd. sure, i have watched sophomores reunite with their friends at the beginning of the year and heard nothing but gushing pitzer praise from bri, but until recently, i  didn’t really understand. i didnt understand how all of these people could think of a school as their home.

at the beginning of the year, haley put an exhibit in the gallery called “nest,” all centered around the idea of “home.” although it was early in the year,  i already felt some sense of home in the grove house. perhaps it wasn’t much compared to my feelings about it now, but i could already feel the house’s love. in the warm nooks and corners, wisteria-laced porch, and much loved leather couches, it was there. i truly believe that the house (and the people that come with it) is what allowed me to feel at home at pitzer, in many ways.

the first is really just a funny coincidence. see, it turns out that the grove house used to be my family’s home. when my mom was growing up in alta dena, she used to visit her uncle arvid and aunt win at their home in claremont. her father’s cousin who lived there, steve zetterberg, was almost like a brother to my grandfather. when i first arrived at pitzer, my mother and i stopped by the grove house to get some cookies and lemonade, and she was struck by the familiarity. we soon discovered, while looking at the A. P. Zetterberg door knocker, that this was the family home my mom used to visit when she was young.

but i almost always forget this little family tie to the house because really, my new family is how i connect to it. the house itself is a beautiful, incredible, craftsman cove, but it wouldn’t be magical without the people who love it, inhabit it, and let it inhabit them.

at the core, i have felt the presence of haley, who i think i will always feel as intrinsically part of the house. i have not yet known the house without haley, without seeing her handwriting (which i realized i have always thought of as the house’s writing) scattered around the grove house and her room door decorated with little notes and messages. haley’s welcoming arms, endless hugs, and constant support and smiles are part of the house to me, and a lot of what made the house (and pitzer) home.

but beyond just haley, what made the house a home to me was the ‘grove house family.’ this family, to me, has the nuclear members (the regular committee members) and our extended family (all of the pitizens and people who love the house). the first time i truly felt this family was at our first evening organizer dinner meeting, when we all sat down in the dining room with our butternut squash soup and quinoa. i looked around at the warmly lit faces smiling, talking, and passing around the salad bowl, and felt an overwhelming sense of love, belonging, and connection. we form family traditions, with our strange introductions and meows of approval. the grove house has provided me with some of my best friends and closest family. and every friday morning, i feel grateful to fill the minutes form with the names of people i love.

even coming in for a sandwich and a cookie and seeing so many familiar pitzer faces adds to my sense of home. we may not know each other, or even acknowledge each other beyond a smile as we past, but in some way, we are all eating our family meal together. our shared love of fried egg sandwiches with the distinctive breaking egg yolk and appreciation for all our friends inside the kitchen connects us.

a last striking feeling of family at the house happened at our final meeting this semester. Z passed around the new instruments to everyone as haley opened up her new art supplies and leonard documented the joy with various iphone apps. on that strangely overcast thursday morning in the warm grove house living room, we felt like a family on christmas morning. the overlapping noise of a strange mix of instruments carried all of our joy and love and excitement throughout the house.

a home is a place filled with the people you love where you feel you belong. the grove house is filled with my family and friends and the intangibly lovely spirit of the pitz. so, grove house, pitzer, pitizens: thanks for the home. i am already housesick, and i cannot wait to see you in september.

endless warmth and infinite love,
em

Where Do You Call Home?

on the plane ride from pz back to washington i got asked this question by the woman sitting next to me. i had asked her where she was from and after replying she looked at me and said,

“and where do you call home?”

i was startled. for the first time in my life, i was not quite sure how to answer. i sat there in an awkward silence, a few seconds too long and finally stammered out “oh, um, i grew up in washington.” 

if you had asked me this question even a few months ago, i would not have hesitated in my answer. i have always considered the pacific northwest my home and still do. but this year, perhaps most especially this past semester, i found another home as well. one that I now desperately miss. i miss the sun and heat, the people, my room, my foam mattress topper, learning something new nearly everyday and, of course, the house. ah, the house. the food, the smells, the creaking doors and worn leather. and as i think of these things, these things i now consider home, i cannot escape this creeping and immense feeling of guilt. i feel guilty that i don’t want to be here, that my heart now lies, at least some what, else where. 

i’ve been wrestling with this guilt. and i am coming to terms with the fact that i can call both places home, i can consider the people at pitzer, family, and the house, our house. but this, like most things, is a process. but i do know concretely as of now, that i can love the pnw and the rain and clouds and evergreens and still miss my california home with all my heart. and i should not feel bad about this, because its a place for love and i have room in my heart for both. 

so, my dear pitzer, know that i love you and i cannot wait to go home in september. 

~suriya