A Girl, A Journey, and the Meaning of Home
I first noticed her when I was 24 and had just packed up my life and moved to Israel. I was young, unattached, idealistic, and sure that this adventure was just what I needed to infuse my life with meaning and purpose. But after a very short time in my new country, I started to see her everywhere. She would greet me when I woke up in the morning, sulk in the corner of my Hebrew classroom, stare me down on the bus with her sad, watery eyes, drape a heavy arm over my shoulder as I walked down the street … I couldn’t shake the chic. My gloomy, creepy stalker. Her name, I would soon learn, was Homesickness. I would try to reason with her – I would explain kindly and patiently that I had been dying to make this move for years, that Jerusalem was actually the right place for me, that I was going to find fulfillment and inspiration here. But Homesickness wouldn’t budge.
And thus, with Homesickness always by my side, I became The Girl Who Split in Half. Half of me would be sipping creamy café afuch in a German Colony coffee shop, or dancing the night away at the underground Boogie in Jerusalem, while the other half would be in Chicago, feeling the papery texture of my grandfather’s hand, napping in my high school bedroom with the wood paneled walls, pulling a wool scarf over my mouth for an icy walk to the train station.
What I didn’t realize then was that Homesickness and I had met before. I was only seven when my parents and I immigrated from the Soviet Union, but it was during those first lonely months in America that she first found me -- although I didn’t know her name yet. She was younger then and less articulate, but she would sit next to me on the school playground full of children speaking a language I didn’t understand, and make me cry for my grandma frying potatoes in Kiev. What I didn’t know then, but have come to learn, is that she was bringing me gifts.
Since that time, I have had many homes. Many more than I ever expected to – Chicago, New York, Jerusalem, Houston, San Francisco, and now Los Angeles. Homesickness and I have aged together. I am not a bright-eyed 24-year-old anymore and she is not a creepy stalker anymore. Strangely, my once unwelcome hound has grown to be a comfortable and comforting companion to me. I can be walking down the beach in Santa Monica, my kids laughing and running ahead of me, and Homesickness is there, gifting me the pitter patter of insects throwing themselves against my windowpane in Houston, or the humid smell of the stairway in my New York apartment building, or the crisp, smoky breeze of nighttime in the Bay. She is my guide through the many rooms of the journey that is my home; a constant reminder of the people I love and the roots I have planted. And the melancholy she brings, which was once so painful, has become a blessing.
I am now the girl who has split into many parts. But each place we live becomes home, because of the traditions and the relationships we build there. And that, my friends, is what this art collection is about. This series of paintings is a meditation on the concept of home. To me, home is not a place – maybe it never has been. It is a combination of ritual, state of mind, and most importantly, it’s the people you love. And these days, Homesickness is always a welcome guest in my home, wherever that may be.
And so, I introduce you to the #HomewardCollection. The collection will go live on Dec. 4 (Dec third if you’re on The Collector's List, so hop on if you’re not on it).
Your words have touched my heart, your art has touched my soul.
Although I only traveled 457 miles from my home in the San Fernando Valley in So Cal to Chico in Nor Cal; I did leave behind generations of family. From that time, wherever we moved, I felt comfort from my family pictures, continuing our family traditions with our children and my Judaica collection.
Last year, the Camp Fire took all our possessions, although we were so fortunate to escape with (most) of our animals. Feeling lost and scared, it was with your kindness and generosity that you sent your work of art, our new Ketubah, in time to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We have just hung it in our new home!
You have helped bring ‘MY’ meaning of home back to me. I have begun celebrating our rituals once again surrounded by those that are dear to me and have started my Judaica collection once again, with your work being the most precious!
Dear, dear Anna, your work is beautiful. I will be on line tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.
So well-written and beautiful, Anka! I too can relate, and my Homesickness is with you, your brother, and the girls.
How do I get on the Collector’s List? I know you don’t give
preferential treatment to family, but I want a fair shot to my favorite among these paintings :-)
I could have written this—I completely identify with The Girl Split in Half here, trying to satiate both halves day to day. And I’m so glad that you have embraced all the pieces of That Girl. Can’t wait to see your Homeward Collection in full <3
This was just beautiful! I read everything you wrote and identified with it ever-so-well! I also had a similar feeling of homesickness, living in Tel Aviv and Chicago. What you wrote really resonated well with me. Thank you for this.
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