the nature of home


by Hannah Kemp
Photographer Hannah Kemp, check her tumblr out here…

I’ve never took a step past my front door without the intention of looking for something.

Twice I’ve been out West, the first experience was for all intents and purposes solitary, most of that trip was spent walking unfamiliar streets and enjoying being a stranger. It was bittersweet, some things were going on in my life that were hard to process. One moment I’d be stealing away to a hiding spot to cry my eyes out, the next I’d wipe my tears and wear a genuine smile as I interacted with people or saw something beautiful that I suspected most people living there had grown to take for granted. The luscious red rose that had wrapped itself around telephone pole in a derelict part of town, the wild gardens that seemed to spring up in the oddest places, crossing the river on a huge bridge taking in the expanse of the Colombian, or walking in downtown Portland after the fall of day (that got to be a little creepy).

The second time was to spend time with a friend. I’d missed him so much and the moment I saw him it wouldn’t have mattered where we were, but we were in a beautiful part of the country. That time, thanks to him I got to see a lot more of the place. Waterfalls, the ocean (it was stormy, cold, and fucking glorious thank you very much) after driving miles through mountains and trees, and the bits and pieces of a city which the natives, as I’ve mentioned before, learn to take for granted. Both times I enjoyed, and both times I fell in love a little more.

Today I sit in my crazy mess of a house in the midwest, missing the West terribly. What’s odd though is this sense that I’m looking for something I don’t have. The West is beautiful beyond doubt, and where I sit things are finally thawing out, it’s flat and white. There isn’t much going on really. Like I said, every time I’ve left it was because I was looking for something, and now I realize it’s a sense of home. Here’s the kicker, whether I was in Portland, Duluth, Minneapolis, or stranded in the middle of downtown Fargo due to a storm with a friend’s apartment as the only place to go to, I carried a sense of home with me. I felt comfortable everywhere I went, and sometimes when you’re looking for something all you have to do is sit still long enough to realize you have it.

I hope to go out there again and see far more, other places too, I’ll leave this place for a week, or maybe months or years and it won’t matter. Home at the end of the day is something we carry, a sense of ourselves that is not affected by exterior factors. This is what I hope to remember wherever life may take me.



In the last twenty four hours I’ve smoked more than my share of cigarettes, drank too much coffee, got out of bed several times because I had an idea I couldn’t pass up, felt the warmth of my cat sitting on my lap only to move on to the next thing that piques his interest. Pouring over design resources, getting my ass kicked in Adobe Illustrator and finding my feet in that way can be trying and rewarding all at once. Valentines day was spent in solitude with my computer yet I didn’t feel lonely because I was doing something I loved, and that’s more than I can say for the other years I spent that holiday I love to loathe.

This year a strange thought occurred to me though, I think I’ll actually really like that holiday once I have kids. I can spoil them with horrible things I’d never want to feed them on a regular basis and we’ll have hay day with it. But real romance? Best done in a spirit of spontaneity. Dear future husband, please don’t ever do anything for me on valentines day. Save the roses for when I’m begging for a glass of wine or my baby has puked on me the tenth time that day.

There’s much to be said for cultivating joy in the private realm, the place that doesn’t initially have much to do with other people. There are times that hit everyone where they feel like they are alone, like they’ve irrevocably lost what was most dear to them. Whether they did in fact or not is beside the point, fighting despair is all about maintaining you still have something to live and fight for, gifts to put forth, and things that you need to do that wouldn’t make you feel good if you left the earth before you’ve done them. There’s much to be said for maintaining the belief that you are a good enough reason to keep pushing forward, and what you love may come back to you or something else could come along.

The nature of art has shape shifted. I used to look at it as a means to gain the recognition I was starving for as a child, the sense I had something to offer and that people valued me for it. Now art has very little to do with other people. Inevitably it eventually will, but it’s become a private practice to rediscover the gifts that have lain dormant for so long. To me, creativity is a dialogue between myself and the divine, and since it has taken that form it has brought so much beauty in my life. It has revived the natural curiosity I silenced long ago. It’s no longer a thing through which I am constantly trying to measure up, instead it’s a place where I simultaneously know I am enough and I can always do better. A sweet spot to be in really.

There are things that are not okay in my life, looming questions with no ready answers, broken relationships which I’m not sure how to repair. Life is far from perfect in my corner of the world and there’s no way I can sugar coat it in positivity or just smile and say “everything is going to be alright”, because there have been many times that they simply weren’t. They sucked ass. Yet what I know to be true is I will smile again, I’ll laugh until I cry and see things that stop my heart, be it like the ocean a dear friend brought me to last spring or the fragile substance of another soul. My eyes will behold the wonder of the colors of the sky the same way they did when I was a little girl, tenderness restored.

In this season I may have more time on my hands than I’m used to, but this time I want to make it count. I may be alone, but I don’t want to succumb to the seductive sentiment that I’m lonely. Looking back on my loneliest times, I find they were far sweeter than I could’ve grasped. It’s going to be similar this time around, except I want to see the sweetness in the moment. Ironically when my life is again filled with people and places I’ve been dying to go to, I’ll miss the times I’ve spent learning a new craft and rediscovering old passions.