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This is not a still life.

Sometimes, the fruit gets tested before it’s ready. Sometimes, it rots.

In between, we aim for the sweet spot.

Image and Story by J. Miller
Image and Story by J. Miller

I’ve made peace with finding half-eaten apples all over the house. With tossing out a moldy orange now and then. With finding teeth marks in the unripe pears.

Because it means giving up an idea of perfection for a glimpse of something else. Fullness, maybe. Even if food is not what we’re hungry for.

I moved around a lot as a kid. I had three high schools. Before moving to Georgia with my husband, I’d moved six times in eight years. I thought I was ready to settle. To find a ‘forever home’ where we could raise children. Make roots. You know the story.

It’s been nine years, and I’m still not completely sure what home is supposed to feel like.

Maybe I just need to step out of the frame to find it.

It’s taken me eight years to start hanging pictures on the walls. There’s been an unacknowledged “what if” hanging there… What if we have to sell. What if we move again.

Even though I haven’t been completely aware of it, I’ve been living with this idea that home is a lost feeling I couldn’t get back. And it’s kept me from feeling like I’m already there.

As a family photographer, I’ve had the privilege of photographing people who are close to one another, often in their homes. And although our living spaces express this idea of home quite differently from house to house, it seems less to do with the curtains, or color schemes, or a ratio of bedrooms to baths. We seem to arrange our lives, almost unconsciously, to bring the familiar within reach.

Maybe it’s knowing you can wake in the middle of the night and sidestep familiar corners in the dark. Knowing the color of the mud on your shoes when it rains, and where to leave them. Or how it feels to carry the weight of your sleeping child to bed. How to hold the ones we love when they hurt.

Maybe understanding what home feels like means giving up on a picture altogether, and writing a story instead. One that includes our bruises and our bright spots. One that evolves to embrace our flaws and our feelings as part of the plan.

One that exists wherever we are. Because whether we want them to or not, our stories don’t stay in one place. They go with us, and wherever we allow our stories to be told is where we find ourselves at home.

J. Miller
Lives Local, Writes Local

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