Here’s a slice of my personal life that will be familiar to many readers: a home-renovation project that stretched out for almost a year. Now the chaos of all that carpentry equipment has been cleared away. There are snazzy light fixtures, new floors and countertops, energy-efficient windows, built-in shelves, shiny appliances.
Not just that it looks better and works better. Friends who’ve come to visit see in it an extension of my personality. There’s room to display lots and lots of books—a sort of timeline of my intellectual history, from college texts of enduring (or at least sentimental) value to my summer reading. Lots and lots of art posters, as well, testifying to a love of visual culture: Scenes from Pompeii, with all that red, are in conversation with those red-saturated floating horizontals of Mark Rothko; Matisse’s silhouetted but animated dancers perform close to Monet’s sublimely still water lilies.
Home has different meanings for all of us. Fundamentally, it’s where we are anchored, where we find ourselves, where we express ourselves. In this issue, we explore home in its many dimensions: home as a place to hone our identity, model the habits of our lives, experiment with different ways of engaging with the world, bounce back from trauma, find solace and refuge, live out our last days.
And, of course, we reflect on the fact that among Duke’s multiple identities— an acknowledged research powerhouse, a renowned health system, a venerated sports brand—it remains, for its alumni, a home. A home that has left them forever changed and to which they feel forever connected.