January 2022, Issue 1 "If you feel like you don't fit into the world you inherited, it is because you were born to help create a new one." -Ross Caligiuri
My Return Home
By Harper Klay, Shonkinite Founder
6 minute read
Click on the video below to hear this Sketch in the author's voice
My fascia tenses when I think the word home.
Head to toe my skin tightens like saran wrap stretched over recently made leftovers. And, I tire. Holding this level of hypervigilance is exhausting, no wonder my immune system flatlines so often. There isn’t an isolated memory that jars my being into rigidity, rather a collective sense of toxic numbness as to what home is.
Maybe this is why my friend group is filled with immigrants and refugees, the incarcerated and asylees, and above all else Tango dancers. They are in a constant practice of the inner path home. Home is a place, in my case a ranch in Montana. Home is people, either blood or chosen. Home is the landscape of the soul, in which other environments, foreign lands or people, are resonance to the inner most psyche.
A Korean doctor of the Buddhist philosophy once told me there are three choices the soul makes before birth: parents, gender, location on the planet. If I aspire to this theory, I’ve added a great deal of responsibility, and questioning, to all my life choices.
Before I was aware I was running away, I was on the run. From self, from a physical state of being, from physical body, and from my home state of Montana. As I went on adventures of world and self, I began soothing my fears of home, dismantling my beliefs, reconstructing new ones.
A Kenyan poet of Somali parents residing in the UK, Warsan Shire, writes: no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark. The poem ends with: Run away from me now, I don’t know what I’ve become but I know that anywhere is safer than here.
Growing up in desolation with long winters of sub-zero temperatures miles from anywhere and a landline that was out of my control, I woke nightly to violence and destruction. Alcohol, infidelity, and religion were the consistent controversies that often ended with the mattress ripped off the bed and bibles lit on fire in the wood burning stove. The counter to explosions were long spans of silence thick with strain and without resolution. I am now aware these cycles span decades, possibly centuries, passed down from generation to generation. I escaped in books and fantasies about being a beautiful princess on top of a mountain where no one could touch me or hurt me. I drew architectural plans of my dream home, surrounded by animals and beauty.
The shit ball of yarn called the home of my past was so jumbled by toxic behavior, an emphasis on a place, and a separation of body and soul as a form of protection, that my journey to the land of my home is a magnanimous one. Secrecy and shame were mistaken for protection of home. Plans for the future of the place were consistently contradictory involving mental trickery that was psychic torture. I numbed my feelings and dwelled in a waiting game of escape.
I hold great pride in being from a 5th generation Montana cattle ranch, but I renounce the domestic violence of my past and refuse to witness and experience the abuse of the present. Even though the land has been placed above the health and well-being of myself and late sibling, I recognize I can love and be in the place of my birth and reconstruct a life and living for myself independent of others’ ideologies or programming of what is home.
I now feel at home with my home and my return home. Although I am technically four hours away from the cattle ranch and place of my birth, I feel at home in Bozeman. When I got my Montana Driver’s License in Livingston, the DMV administrator said “Welcome Home.” I absorbed those words into every cell of my being. To file business entities in the State of Montana, sign a lease, register my car, and contemplate a 406 area code cell phone number gives me a thrill and peace simultaneously. I am proud to be here and be from here.
My days are spent traveling through the portal of technology into other countries with a global team enthusiastically building a Montana-based company. In this process I figured out a way to fit in at home, live at home, and be at home within myself.
In the years I wandered, I was healing my inherited infected roots, and now in Montana, I re-root with healthy ones as I reclaim home and build Shonkinite.
Thank you for reading,
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