Re: Home.

“Home,” as Jimmy Carter wrote last year, in a piece for The Bitter Southerner, “is a complicated idea.”

That’s the idea, “home,” I was exploring, through writing, the morning Liza Fletcher was abducted.

The complicated idea of “home” is something I think about quite often, and sometimes, increasingly often, with a tiny hint of clarity.

Memphis has always been a complicated place for me, and now that my children are launching into lives of their own, the tie between “home” and “Memphis” has been top of mind.

But clarity is fleeting and hard to hold onto in the bumper-car surprises of modern reality, especially here in Memphis.

So, I had been thinking about “home” from one perspective until back-to-back tragedies rattled me out of that particular line of reflection.

Home is a complicated idea, indeed.

Last Thursday, September 8, the morning after Memphis was on lockdown for several hours because of a gunman driving around and shooting at random, I scheduled an all-staff Zoom call at Kindred Place. Most of my staff are therapists — the people who help other people process and resolve feelings when strong, uncomfortable, unresolved feelings are interfering with work, relationships, or general well-being.

It’s been a long, hard two and-a-half years for therapists everywhere, including at Kindred Place. Therapists are people, too. People who feel feelings like fear, anger, frustration, sadness, and grief.

I could try to make light of this, write that “random shooter driving around and terrorizing our hometown” wasn’t on anyone’s bingo card. But there wasn’t, and isn’t, anything that feels lighthearted here.

It was a quick call, just to check in with one another.

I asked what words the counselors needed to hear, what words they were sharing within their own personal relationships.

(Headline: it’s OK not to respond immediately, not to have an answer.)

Stay present, in this moment, right now. Keep the people you love close to you. Do the work that’s right in front of you. Those were the general themes.

Then I asked for a show of hands: Who *didn’t* do an internet search for jobs in other cities last night or this morning?

As expected, no hands went up, and that included mine.

When things feel impossible, uncomfortable, scary, and hopeless, it is a normal, human response to want to run away. It’s a protective response, and sometimes it’s right. Sometimes it isn’t.

So, for a little while here, over a series of posts, I thought the idea of “home” might be even more compelling territory to explore. How many posts, how many days? Who knows. But I’ve already written and scheduled one for tomorrow.

Until then, consider the advice from a terrific team of therapists (I’m biased on that, but I’m also right): Be present, in this moment now. Do the work that’s right in front of you, wherever you call home.


  1. Thank you for your words, Jennifer. I, too, wonder about the place I call home-as in “I am going home to see my mom and bro and his family.” I still love the old haunts and to walk the lovely walks at “home.” Sometimes I think we could move there to take care of my mom should the need arise. She loves it there-has friends and a life. And/But, she was truly shaken over Liza and then the shooter who rampaged the city. I am angry. It’s a lot. And longer prison terms won’t make things better. More likely worse. Do the work–what’s right in front of me. Currently reading: The Struggle for the Soul of Teacher Education, Preparing America’s Teachers, Start Where You are But Don’t Stay There, and Toward a BlackBoyCrit Pedagogy. Love and prayers for the journey.

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  2. “Home” should have a feeling of safety and comfort but so many times it doesn’t. I did not hear of the shooting spree in Memphis a couple of weeks ago. I know it must have been a scary time and only normal for the fight/flight adrenalin to kick in. In the past, it would have been something that made the national news. Now, it is so common place that it barely warrants a mention unless it is in a mall, hospital, or school. Or someone is using their car as a weapon in a crowd.
    I have a lot of respect for you and doing a “check-in” with your team.. You are an awesome leader! Staying in the present moment is good advice. I shall try harder to head…


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