Some writers create a playlist to inspire, reflect or accompany the writing they are doing at any given moment. In my case, I don’t have the technical patience to do a list; for me one song is enough, and Get Home, by Bastille is the song that speaks to, or for, my writing at present.
“How am I gonna get myself back home?”; the ultimate question for more than one character in my new work, Mengeti.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard both my parents talk about the importance of being ‘home’ during the occupation of Holland in WWII. A teenager at the time, my Mom insisted on riding her bike to her babysitting job, but could think only of home when she found herself in a crowded basement, cradling the toddler she was charged with keeping, huddled there with others while planes dropped bombs over their heads. She was safe there, but she ran out of that basement and crawled along the ditches, toddler in tow until she got away from the shelling and could run home because that is simply where she needed to be to feel truly safe.
My Dad, who was eventually picked up by the Germans and interned in a camp, then sent to work on a German farm, recalls his own trek home. He didn’t even know the war was over, was simply told by the farm woman to go home. So he did. Walking across a bombed out Germany to get there, ‘borrowing’ a German horse and cart, simply going home. He was eighteen. He speaks of another young friend who did the same. Sick, wasted away with disease, starvation and the effects of being worked nearly to death, this friend too, walked hundreds of kilometres to Limburg to be home. And promptly died. But he died at home.
Later on my Dad was a soldier himself, sent by the Dutch to Indonesia to reclaim the colony. Home never left him, but I wonder if his sense of it changed because of what he learned about himself over time and as a man who held a gun. Soldiers from all the wars, the ‘greatest pretenders”, their faces brave, their hearts needing home. Perhaps?
“We are the last people standing
at the end of the night.
We are the greatest pretenders
in the cold morning light.”……….
“The birds are mocking me
they call to be heard.
The birds are mocking me
they curse my return.”
What is this drive, this need for home? What indeed, is home? And why, always, do we want to get there? I know Bastille’s song is about the band keeping their sense of themselves, who they are, their metaphorical ‘home’. But I guess that’s what people in war are trying to do as well. Enjoy.