This Is What My Home Looks Like

[Video Description: I pan around the beach on a stormy but beautiful day. The lake churns; the sky is filled with dramatic cloud formations; the dune grass sways in the wind. I follow a seagull taking flight, and then settle on Iain walking toward me with Dudley and Zelda, who greet me warmly. Iain waves at me. And the video cuts off abruptly because whoooops my editing.]

Iain and I live in Indiana on the southern tip of Lake Michigan, a few minutes from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. On a weekend day in September 2012, we took the dogs to the beach. We walked all together for awhile, and then Iain took the dogs for a run down the beach, while I stayed behind and took some photo and video of the gorgeous day we had the privilege of enjoying.

image of the beach to the east with tumultuous water and stormy skies

I've written before about how important it is for me to remember, and to actively appreciate, that I live in a beautiful place which I love—because I also live in a place with a deeply conservative state government that often feels hostile to me, as a woman and as an advocate of social justice and as a human who believes that we're all in this thing together.

image of the lakeshore to the west; the Chicago skyline can be seen in the very distance

Often, marginalized people whose lives are made more difficult and less safe, whose bodies and agency are held in contempt by their own state governments, are told by people outside of those states, even ostensible allies, to move. Just move to a blue state. As if it's just that simple—just picking up your life and abandoning your home and career and local support network, to move somewhere else. As if blue states are universally better.

image of the dunes, facing away from the water, below stormy skies

As if you don't love the place where you live, even if it's imperfect. I love this place. I grew up here, and I fled from its clutches as soon as I could, and I lived in a city which is something I needed to do for a very long time, and I lived in another country, and then I moved back. And I love this place still, and I always have, even when I've hated it.

image of the dunes, topped by a dark line of trees, below brilliant white clouds with bright blue sky peeking through

I love this place despite its history. It is, like much of the United States, a history of seized land, of racism, of union-building and union-busting, of industry and collapse, of extraordinary natural beauty and the fight to preserve it, and its people, from pollution and decay.

image of stones made smooth by the lake, buried in the sand

I have spent so many days, and nights, on this beach. I've been sunbathing, and I've gone nightswimming, and I've felt the caress of seaweeds swirling around my legs in the dark as I've gazed up into a starry night sky. I've stood on this beach and gazed into my husband's eyes while he held my face and kissed me. I have laughed while the dogs pranced away from lapping waves. I have stood with my feet in icy water at the end of autumn, looking out over the lake and breathing in its familiar air, and taking a long, lingering moment to feel lucky that I am alive, in this time and this place.

image of dune grass growing out of the sand, leaning  to the side in the wind

I don't want to move. This place is my home. My parents were born in California and New York, but I was born here. I am a Hoosier, and I want to be in Indiana and make it a place other people want to be, too.

image of the lake, with short white-capped waves, and low-hanging clouds

I expect more, and I plant my feet here and fight for it.

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[Originally posted in similar form September 25, 2012.]

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