Guest post by Kelly Ferguson
For years my dream was a proper house with proper furniture. When I turned thirty, I shook my fist at the heavens and proclaimed, “As God is my witness, this is my last used futon!” Over time, I eventually put together a real house. A dining room set. Framed prints for the walls. And finally, the sofa that meant I was a real grown up.
Then my dream changed. In 2006, I moved 2600 miles west to Montana to begin a MFA in creative writing.
I was going to be a grad student, not a banker. I trimmed down to what could fit in a U-Haul trailer and sold or gave away the rest. I’ve moved four times in six years, and when I finish my PhD I’ll be moving again. My furniture is now all freebies or from Big Lots. I’ve considered changing my name to Kelly Particleboard Ferguson. The lugnut is my friend.
So, how does this all this tie back into Laura?
It was move number two when I fully understood the role of the china shepherdess. I’ve learned that when you move often, sometimes just this one thing can be all you need as symbol of being home. Like the Ingalls family, my list of little things has quietly grown from one or two objects to a short paragraph. My Whatnot runneth over. But I can, if necessary, pack everything up for a move without renting a truck.
That is, if we don’t count all my books.
The idea for this post came when I arrived home from Laurapalooza after having been gone over a month, and gazed upon the first object that meant I was home— Maneki Neko cat.
Maneki Nekos are common as a “we buy gold” signs in Chinatowns. We are not talking Fabergé eggs here. But the cat is special to me. I’ve had her since I was fifteen years old and my family lived in Japan for a year. I think, actually, my parents bought the cat for themselves, but right away we all knew she was mine. Since then she’s been bringing good luck and waving hello for twenty-seven (yikes!) years. I had Maneki Neko in my room at my parents’ house, moved her to the dorms, my first college apartment, my first post-college apartment…and most recently, my latest little white house in Athens, Ohio.
The Ingalls family knew they were home when Ma unwrapped the china shepherdess. I know I’m home when I see my waving cat. What about you? If you had to pick one item that said, “home,” what would it be?