On Friday, April 24, 2015, a celebration to officially launch my first book publication, Untethered, was held at the Fuller House on the Huntington Reservation. This is a piece I shared with my guests that evening regarding the special bond I feel with this home. I thought I might share it with you as well.
It was a sunny, August day in 1984. It’s very likely I was doing what I did most summer days… with my friends at the beach, on the pier, trying to soak up every bit of sun a Cleveland summer might offer. Much of our conversation was about boys, clothes, and makeup, if there was a party that night, and whether or not we would be able to get some beer. It was the summer before my senior year in high school, and it was one of the happiest times of my childhood. I loved my friends along with the freedom and distance I was gaining from the unkind and abusive house I grew up in. It wasn’t a home. It was a place I dreaded to be.
While I was on that pier, considering my short term plans and longer-term passage onto college and into a life that would hopefully help me escape, another journey was already underway. The Irene Fuller house was being saved from demolition and beginning its voyage to a new location. Placed upon a barge, it floated about two miles down the lake toward its new foundation. There it would sit vacant for almost twenty-five years. In 2009, enough funds were raised to renovate and transform this house.
I felt a special kinship to the Fuller House and chose to celebrate my journey there. It had been home to the Fuller family, became a nurses’ residence for Bay General Hospital, and finally a home to the Sheppards. The moment I walked in, I felt its warmth and kindness. I also sensed it had experienced sadness, loss, and turmoil. I felt a hint of loneliness from a broken heart or two. I heard laughter throughout, joyous family occasions, children playing on a warm summer evening, or gathering on the porch as a storm rolled over the lake.
Rather than destroying this beautiful house, it was saved, with the possibility it would find a new passion in life. In 2009, I began my own renovation. I was sad and had a broken heart in dire need of repair. This house and I set off on our respective transformative paths with a similar intention – finding a home for our hearts. In 2011, the doors opened and the Fuller House became a center of creativity, a gallery, a gathering place, and home for those whose minds and hearts love to wander, inspire, and be inspired. Coincidently (or not) at the same time, a creative voice within me was born, as a writer emerged from a corner of my heart long unheard with a passion to use the written word as a mechanism to explore, resolve, and heal.
As we prepared for the party, I met with the compassionate women who care for this home and support its intention and purpose for creativity, spontaneity, friendship, and love. Together, we brought parts of my life and my journey to this destination to share with my guests as a part of the evening. It was the moment our paths converged, and I felt a sense of warmth, belonging, and love. My book launch was the first event of the season for the Fuller house and my first major book event, written only steps away from where I grew up. Together, we launched into a new season of life, and I am proud to showcase my first work as a published author in this home and my hometown.
The other day, someone asked what was the first thing I thought of when I heard the word home, and I responded instantly, "the beach" -- Huntington, the place I grew up. At other points in my life, something "new" has often meant a move to someplace new. Not this time. I've decided that I am going to start this new adventure, this fresh start, in a familiar place. Home.