A Home by Any Other Name...
I’ve been told home is where the heart is and firmly believe this to be true. The word generally conjures images of the place where I spent my childhood. My parents have lived there for the last 31 years, and although I haven’t inhabited “my” bedroom for more than a decade, I’ll always think of that particular room as mine. Just like I might always think of that place where I first concocted homemade applesauce and taught myself to play the piano as my home.
On the other hand, my boyfriend always refers to the house he shared with his ex-wife and three children as home. I’ve asked about this before, trying to understand the connection, and he says he makes that reference because he raised his kids there. Although the situations are not at all alike, I see one important similarity in our perceptions of home: It’s where our families are (or were).
Perhaps a person’s heart is always with his or her family. Sometimes my mom talks about selling her house because the upkeep is increasingly burdensome for her and my dad, and my stomach hollows upon hearing these words. But then I wonder if that brick ranch with the corner willow tree would hold the same place in my heart if Mom and Dad no longer lived there.
After careful consideration, I’ve decided I would still think of it as home, although not in the literal sense. Home would become a figurative place kept alive by my memories. I think the same is true for my boyfriend, who sold his marital home after the divorce. That place still stands, but a different family lives there now. His home has since transformed from a physical location to a place in his heart.
How does a person move forward and build a home for his or herself based on the present rather than the past? This is a difficult question because home denotes so much more than a brick-and-mortar structure. Home is where a person feels most comfortable, where time is happily spent and memories are continually made. It’s also where a person’s stuff is, from the mundane, like clothing and food, to the important, like personal mementos and family heirlooms.
Home can be anything from a studio apartment to a 7500 square-foot mansion. It can be messy or clean, on the lake or a dirt road. The only important aspect is that its occupants feel good when they walk through the door.
At the end of a long day, I am always grateful to return to my own space. No feeling in the world matches sitting comfortably within my own four walls. I can think clearly and breathe freely. It is the only place on earth where I have total control.
After reading what I’ve written, I think I’ve already created another home for myself and didn’t realize it until now. This home is separate and distinct from where I grew up, but that doesn’t diminish its importance. I’ve moved a lot since leaving my parents’ and haven’t had time to lay down solid roots. Permanency is another component of home, one that I haven’t felt in a long time. Maybe I just need to stay in one place for a while to feel like I’m home. I can still retain the memories of my childhood, but also learn to live for myself and the future as well. The building I’m in now may just be the place in which to establish “home.”