Wednesday, February 17, 2010


A while ago my friend K. told me how much he likes Japan, "I feel at home," he said. We agreed that it was wonderful to find a second home. Mine is South Beach, where this dog looked back at me as he waited outside the 13th Street Post Office. The climate is warm. I can shed my heavy clothes and sometimes my cares. Tell me, Where do you feel at home?

In the recent New York Review of Books Freeman Dyson writes: "When expressed in mathematical equations, the laws of quantum mechanics are clear and unambiguous. Confusion arises from misguided attempts to translate the laws from mathematics to human language." But I'll do it anyway: I feel when I walk in South Beach things respond to me and I to them, and in that situation both those things and I are changed. I like to think this experience is like Heisenberg's "observer effect," which "refers to changes that the act of observation will make on the phenomenon being observed." He meant changes that could be measured mathematically, probably unlike what I experience.

Yet, it's not just dogs that look back at me. "Looking back" may not be the best term. These plants do not have eyes, yet when I stand next to them I feel we are altering each other, changing each other.

I walk for hours and appreciate the public toilets. The reflected flash covers my face, and it looks as if I am holding a lit globe.

Some trees on Jefferson have been pruned and painted in the Spanish manner. Does that limit our exchange? (Come to think of it: the high style of those fashion runway shows is like this pruning and painting. The style affects us but we cannot affect it.)

The architectural styles vary. Every time I go out I see something new.

Someone has put two guardian statues on the two balconies of a pent house.

Nothing blocks the view. My eyes can trip out.

Perhaps my feeling at home in South Beach is a return to childhood, when I only half understood what adults were saying. In South Beach I hear many languages, mostly Spanish, and can understand only a few words.


  1. mim, you are extraordinary. i have only been to florida once, to naples; and i did not like it, except for some extraordinary herons i saw. but make me want to jump on the next plane for South Beach. you are a seductress of place!

  2. I feel home at the north, at the sea,
    I feel home outside in the wind
    I feel home with my husband,
    I think I have some talent to feel home elsewehre, cause somehow basically I don't feel home in life, even if this now sounds strange. I fell on earth one day, ok; I'm here now...
    not belonging and belonging to earth; it changes.
    I feel home in fresh cold windy weather.

  3. I love your sexy myspace bathroom photo!

  4. Susan--it's all through my eyes. Some might disagree. You are in a charming place up north.

    Smilla: What a range you have!

    And Ben, you must be ironic, right? The toilets in the Wolfsonian Museum have been voted the best in South Beach. I must post a shot of them.

  5. Sometimes language is best not entirely understood. Much in the same way as Shakespeare loses his magic if you analyse every word, it is the overall rhythem and tone that bring us so much more. The music is the fun.

    One day I shall cross the pond, I hope.

  6. I'm sure you will come to the states, Lewis.
    Yes, why not drift to the music?

  7. I feel at home at home. For me home is Melbourne. I suspect my love of place here has much to do with my experience of growing up with a mother who longed to be elsewhere back in her home in Europe on the other side of the world.

    I can understand your love of your home. Home can be anywhere, but it is personal and idiosyncratic.

    It may not be where we were born, it might be elsewhere but it holds the essence of those first few safe hours, weeks months in our mother's/caregiver's arms.

  8. I love your walks, seeing through your eyes. I feel most at home at the edge of the sea, any sea. I feel second most at home in my bedroom with my violin.

  9. hi Mim - your image of the beach where 'Nothing blocks the view. My eyes can trip out' makes me think of a visual palindrome... the sea and sand inverted to become almost mirror images of each other.

    Here in NZ, there is a wonderful Maori word 'Turangawaewae' that references our 'soul' home; It's as much a physical place as a non-physical one - the place where we feel most at ease, and most energized; the place our spirit soars, settles and comes into alignment. I feel privileged to be able to borrow this word (it contains music!) when talking about 'home'.

    I think home can be a composite of places...

    L, C

  10. Right now, Claire and Rebecca: there's a rich swath of violet along the horizon; and closer in, foam tipped aqua-marine. Saturated soul.

    I'll put on Gould and think of you, R.