What is home to you? Have you ever needed to “go home?”
Noun – The place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household.
Adjective – Of or relating to the place where one lives: “your home address”.
Adverb – To the place where one lives: “what time did he get home last night?”.
Verb – (of an animal) Return by instinct to its territory after leaving it: “geese homing to their summer nesting grounds”.
I’ve always considered myself a bit of a home-body. Most of my friends long to and love to travel. While I have places I want to see and wouldn’t say “no” to a (paid-for) escape, I am actually quite happy not straying very far from this place I now call home.
When I was in high school and college, all I had to do was go to camp and I felt at home. It was where I felt totally comfortable. I could be myself and camp was a perfect balance of being in the out-of-doors and in fellowship that I love.
After getting my teaching certificate, I applied to every podunk school district in the surrounding states because I felt like my sense of home came from the people I was with and not a particular physical environment; I felt I could go anywhere and make a home. I ended up staying here, so I didn’t really get to test that theory out.
But then my parents had to move to the other side of the country when my dad’s job changed. I was a brand new mom, my mom was a brand new grandma, and I thought I was losing a piece of “home” when she left. Going to visit my parents each summer where ever they were, became a bit of a “going home” for me. When that trip became one to the place my grandparents had built-in Cape Cod, all kinds of feelings about “place” and “home” became wrapped up in one huge memory and sensory driven ball. And then my parents sold the property and moved back here. My family and my brother’s family have welcomed them back and helped them make this place home again.
When my daughter was looking for a place to go to college her criteria was that it be within a day’s drive of home. While it was great for her to be here on holidays, she never really came home much during her four years in Portland. She came to know what many of us have learned, home is where your friends are and where you “make a life.” Now she has married and lives in Seattle and it is definitely her home, she just wishes she could carry her mom in her back pocket.
Perhaps my sense of “home” is closer to the verb – “homing”. Where ever I do land for any length of time, I set up a home base. When I was growing up, it was my bedroom – often my closet if I could make a cozy space in it. At camp and college, it was my bunk. Every place I’ve ever lived, I set up a spot that is my own and when I’m in it, I’m home. Yes, there is also something about the rest of my home universe – my friends and family and professional life – rotating around this spot as though it actually had centrifugal force, but mostly it is just a sense of being at home in myself that I have when I’m in it.
My husband’s family lived all over the world as he was growing up, following the career of his foreign service dad. But even so, Mike can name places where he felt more at home and the reasons why.
So I get it when I meet people in their 30’s and 40’s who moved here for a job but begin to think about how to get back to the place they call home. Usually it is the call of family that clears the compass glass and wiggles the arrow, showing the way to go. There are also elders who move to be where their children call home, knowing family ties are most essential to one’s final “homing” journey.
What I so fondly call home now might change in the future. Who can know how the winds of time will blow? But for now it is only important to recognize the essential qualities of home for myself and for others I love and if someone needs my help to feel at home, or go home, I want to help them find what they seek.