“This region is not like it was when I lived here, but in a way it doesn’t matter because home is memory and companions and/or friends who share the memory. But equally important as the memory and place and people of one’s personal home is the very idea of home. What do we mean when we say “home”?Toni Morrison from her 2009 convocation address at Oberlin College titled “Home” collected in The Source of Self Regard published in 2019 by Alfred A. Knopf, New York City; page 17.
A compelling question for us to ask one another and answer in the day of COVID-19, what do we mean when we say home? Certainly, we are all learning about our home-boxes, the people who live in them, but are we not also contemplating the parts of our home-towns and communities that are under threat from the COVID-19 virus and its economic fallout? When at last we emerge from our home-boxes, when there is a vaccine or when testing is widespread and personal protective equipment is universally available, will our home-towns comport with our memory?
We will remember these days. My hope is that the forum we provide at the Go Dog Go Cafe, the challenges and opportunities, the promotions and prompts, the friendship and companionship will provide all of us shared memories of how we survived, how we overcame, how we became more human, how we used our creative lives to elevate one another, how we held one another through inevitable griefs and mourning, how we found an answer to the meaning of home.
You have a home here, friends, guests, and baristas. Whether you want acknowledgement for the words you spill from your heart or want encouragement and constructive criticism that will enable publication as discussed in this month’s Writing Workshop, you have a table available in this Cafe. That was my commitment to you when the doors opened and it will remain my commitment to you until, well, until… well, I don’t want to think about an until point right now, don’t we have more than enough of that in the news?
Once again, I ask that you stay home, please, but visit us often. We will continue our usual weekly events and will start a new monthly workshop for April, but our baristas are also sharing their favorite poems that have inspired them over the years. Once that cycle is complete, maybe we will start a new one or maybe shift to music or visual art or movies or… who knows… these are little insights into the minds and hearts of our wonderful baristas that will teach us about their creative journey. A journey that continues.
So wash your hands, pull up a chair, share with us, scroll around, comment, like, follow, share with your friends, encourage, believe in one another, create, create, create… together we will birth a new home, filled with shared memories.
I wrap up with the next line from Toni Morrison’s 2009 convocation address at Oberlin that now seems even more prophetic:
It is a virtual question because the destiny of the twenty-first century will be shaped by the possibility or the collapse of a shareable world.Toni Morrison from her 2009 convocation address at Oberlin College titled “Home” collected in The Source of Self Regard published in 2019 by Alfred A. Knopf, New York City; page 17.
Are we ready to come together and do the work to realize the possibilities of this shareable world, and, perhaps more importantly, keep it shared? Knowing all of you, I believe the answer is unequivocally, “Yes, you are home here at the Go Dog Go Cafe!”
Now… go wash your hands.