ISEEM TO BE A BIT SHORT HERE ON YOUTH, SPOUSES, AND CHILDREN…but even with these differences in the facts of our lives, I loved the new memoir called “Made for You and Me” by 30-something wife and mother Caitlin Shetterly. Like my own story, it’s about finding one’s true home—which is not necessarily the place where everyone thinks you belong. Meet Caitlin, and win her book (or mine) in the process, perhaps.
Caitlin’s is a tale, as the cover subheadline says, of “Going West. Going Broke. Finding Home.” In March 2008, she and her then-newlywed husband, Dan, headed to their dream of life in Los Angeles, only to encounter something less, and more, than all the promise their fresh start together seemed to hold. The brutally frank, very personal tale—which has become more than just theirs but a universal and even political one in the wake of the recent recession that has washed over so many American dreams—was first told in a blog to friends and family that became a series of popular radio diaries on NPR’s “Weekend All Things Considered.”
There were other curveballs beyond the economy: An unexpected pregnancy at the start of their adventure left Caitlin too sick to work. A wearying, costly string of apartment mishaps, and the loss of a beloved pet in the process added to the drama. Eventually, the money and the Plan B’s (many of them) were exhausted, and there was a mother’s call from back home in Maine: You can come here and live with me.
Once again these 21st-century Joads packed all that remained of their possessions, minus one cat and plus one son, and crossed America in retreat.
“We felt bruised and tired, unsure of anything other than each other and our direction: home.
“We drove, stopped, nursed, changed a diaper, drove, stopped, nursed. We were crawling across the country, our car teetering with stuff…”
And then: arrival, and a first night of rest in her former childhood bed, which was too small to fit her husband alongside her. Dan was relegated to a mattress in a loft nearby, the latest compromise of their compromised dream.
“In the dark, I lay there. I was home. I had made an epic—to my life—journey across America in 11 days. I had lost my cat. I had a child. My husband and dog were still with me. I was at my mother’s, where I had never wanted to end up for more than a visit. I had no idea how long we’d be there. I was tired. I was anxious. I was grateful. What had happened to us? It was almost too much to grasp. My new life as I knew it had collapsed and something else was beginning. I just had no idea what it was, or if I’d even recognize what was before me as my life.”
It was back in her home of origin that Caitlin heard her mother’s invocation to each evening (“I love this evening”) or day (“I love this day”), and though such utterances seemed vaguely irritating considering all that was going on, they served eventually to soften, to guide, and helped the surrender. The laughter returned…and you will have to read “Made for You and Me” (enter below to win one of two copies I bought to share) or Caitlin’s blog, to see where, and what, Caitlin and Dan and their son call home today, and how they are doing.
Aside: Perhaps the very best, and quite unexpected, part about writing a book is meeting other authors. I met Caitlin through her literary agent, with whom I was on a panel recently, and who afterward emailed me to say, “I have an author whose work you may like.” With that introduction, I got more than a galley of a good read: I got to correspond with another new author who, like myself, was running from hither to yon doing appearances, having a hard time with exhaustion and wondering what it would all add up to.
I met a woman who in her new life has become, as I have, quite the hippie-style home economist: learning to feed herself well but thriftily, wasting nothing, enjoying the process. And I met a woman who, because she almost accidentally started a blog in 2008 within days of when I did, is surrounded with readers who say things like this to her:
“God bless you for making it home.”
How to Win Caitlin’s, and My, Books
IHAVE 2 COPIES of Caitlin’s “Made for You And Me” that I bought to give away; Caitlin bought two copies of my “And I Shall Have Some Peace There” to share on her site. Simply comment below, answering the question:
How have you found home—and what does home mean to you?
Then go do the same thing over at Caitlin’s. We’ll each draw two winners after entries close on Sunday, March 27, at midnight. Remember: You double your chances by commenting on both blogs, even if you simply cut and paste your same comment to both spots.
Now you know me: I understand some of you are shy and just want to say, “Count me in,” or “I want to win” in the comments. That’s fine—but it’s even better if you talk a little about the notion of home. Good luck in the drawing!
Note: Federal regulations require that I say that goods purchased from any links to Amazon here net me a small commission (which I use to buy books for giveaways like this).
I carry many homes in my heart, as I’ve made several moves once I left to go off to college, and I’ve loved each place I’ve lived.
The feeling of absolute relief and peace I get when I come home is like no other feeling!
Home, for me, is where I can live without fear, and with the freedom to live my life fully, the place where I wake up each day with hope and joy,
Home for me is Colorado. God was gracious to bring us back to the beauty of the west 11 years ago and I have rarely had a day that I do not thank Him for His goodness and beauty. It is definitely a place we make a life… rather than just a living.
home is leaving my West Coast dream to return to Southwestern Ontario’s frigid winters and humid summers to take care of my parents and in-laws
P.S. As an immigrant from war-time Europe at the age of eight, I would like to add that it is here in America that I have found home. I love this country. My heart holds deep gratitude for this enormous gift: as our converted troop ship, “Marine Falcon”, approached New York City, we stood on the deck in the bright morning sun. My mother pointed to the Statue of Liberty in the distance. It has kept its promise.
Home, I think is not the house or place that we live, but where we can gather with friends and family and find comfort and reassurance.
Home is a place that envelops you with love,kindness and joy. You can be yourself there and once removed from that place, you are anxious to return. You can nurture your dreams there,feel safe and it adds so much meaning to life.MaryLou
My physical home is in Maine at the moment, but I feel connected and “at home” spiritually wherever I am. Perhaps being “at peace” with my inner self allows me to “make peace” with my physical circumstances.
Home to me is the place I can make a grilled cheese sandwich & warm tomato soup on a cold rainy day. If I am sharing it with family it makes it that much better.
Home is wherever I hang my hat.
My home is a beautiful little bungalow, built in 1920, with a big yard for my gardening. I’ve worked so hard to make it a peaceful, comfortable, welcoming, safe place for me and the people I hold dear. But ultimately, my home is wherever I feel safe and loved.
Home….I can definitely say ‘home’ is being with my husband and 3 girls. We have created a family that feels like home to me. The space we reside…our physical home….we started our family in. It was always considered our “starter” home, but now we’ve been here over 12 yrs….the longest I’ve ever lived ANYWHERE. I moved in pregnant with my oldest daughter & she is now 12. We’ve brought 3 babies home while living here, remodeled it & really made it our own. And though we have certain desires (more space being the main one), it’s starting to feel like I can’t picture home anywhere else. My girls have only know this home & they are now 12, 8 and 3. We live in South Florida…and I’ve been here over 17 years…it’s beautiful, a paradise & feels like home to me!! I truly feel blessed to live 5 minutes from the beach. :)
I have been living under a rock and didn’t realize you had a new book. I can’t wait! I found my home throwing caution to the wind and following my heart. I hated it here the first 2 years. It was beige desert, no rain, too hot in the summer and freezing in the winter. My yard is now green 365 days/year, I have learned to plan for the extreme weather, and cannot imagine living any where else. I have rooted like an oak and now I am spreading my limbs.
ENTRIES ARE CLOSED, and winners have been notified by email…thank you all for great answers. More book events to come soon!
just returned “home” to Ohio from spending a week in Virginia with my BFF, Marsh, 62 yrs. old, who is battling Peritoneal Cancer. You know, she, who has suffered greatly, has taught me an attitude of gratitude, gratfulness, living-life-to-its-fullest, living like today is the only day, family, blessings and love. Marsh, who has been given the greatest scare of her life, holds her scarfed head up high, walks like a Warrior, and teaches ME to love life as it is gifted to me. Thank you for your blog. I think I may send a copy of your book to Marsh! and get one for myself, too! Bless you!
Welcome, Karen. I am very touched by your story. If you would like me to send you bookplates inscribed for each of you, just email me the address. I am awaytogarden at gmail dot com. Thank you for visiting, and for being such a good friend to Marsh. Blessings in return. :)