so, i am keeping a class notebook and writing new models of all of my assignments this year, instead of recycling old ones, because i'm actually changing up my essays and re-structuring a whole bunch. i'm also working on really digging into the writing process, reading strategies (from how to choose a book, to how to decode/figure out unfamilar language in your reading, to making connections between books and the world) and on higher level thinking. but how? why?
so, my first essay has changed dramatically, and i'm focusing on setting (i'm trying to connect each piece with a literary element that it utilizes). i've asked the students to introduce me to their world through the use of description of their "home" and we defined the many places that home could be, as well as brainstormed about things they could describe. so here goes my 1st draft, because i want to participate in the writing process with them.
feedback, as always, is encouraged (hint hint, students... use the positive sandwich)
They say home is where the heart is - so my home is everywhere. They also call me a prodigal daughter where I was raised - and I tell them that I have another home. Sometimes I say "I'm going home" when I mean Michigan, but home is also the Bronx. So what makes a home, anyway? Is it about the comfort of a space, or the people that surround you there? Is it about feeling like you belong there?
Today, I arrived here, said hello to a neighbor as we waited in the brown-tiled lobby for the elevator. we chatted lightly about having pizza for dinner and she said "come on up, you can have some!" as if I've lived here for years. I turn the key, eye the mezuzah on the door that i notice she kisses every time she enters the room - a small prayer for passing through.
The living room is bright and sunfilled - peaceful peach walls, a blue couch, photos of loved ones and books that line the walls. Post-its with positive reinforcements give me strength and energy; the air smells clean and fresh from the balcony door always being open (until winter, anyway). This, the balcony, is where I sit and pray, sit and chant, sit and wonder how my life will turn out. The flowers sway in the breeze and ask questions of the setting sun over the Hudson.
I pause this daydream to think about where I'm from vs. where I am. I am homeless, so the meaning of home is in flux. I am from burnt out houses and boarded up beuildings, fires and shootings more common than graduations. Funerals are more common than weddings there. Torn up concrete and stalled construction. The scent of tar and garbage festering fills my lungs, and car exhaust from the freeway veins glazes my vision. Here also is an undying spirit, the rose that grew from concrete, the people who refuse to give up and will continue to thrive, despite being given nothing.
The Bronx is rebuilding way faster than my city; there is movement here, while it is stagnant there. There is a promise here where there it's bleak. I have always run toward the fire, instead of away from it. I have always gone back to the flames to save one life, even if the cost is my own. I am drawn to people's struggles so that I may help them lift themselves to better lives, better homes, better worlds. So, in a sense, my home is wherever I'm needed, and wherever I can spread love.
the end (of the first draft, anyway...)