Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Just what does "home" mean? What is that feeling of being home?

It's simple if you've lived in the same place all your life, especially if it's the same house. But I've lived in 4 houses, an apartment, and various dorm rooms, and those domiciles are scattered across the globe. Which building is home? which nation is home? Is home just a state of mind, or does it have to have a physical location/component?

Home is safety, familiarity, comfort. It's the place where you know how things are going to turn out and you know where everything is. Home is rooms you can navigate without flipping the light switch (though your hand knows just where it is). Home is a place where everything is glossy with memories. You don't just see what something is, but everything it was. The desk where you did your French Lit. homework, now just a repository for books and mail (let's not even go into the association-soaked corsage sitting there). The drawer where you kept tender (if terse) notes, dusty with disuse... Home is the house where someone runs to embrace you at the door, where the dog can't wait to see you. (Home is the house whose dog's hairs are already all over your clothing.)

I've been thinking about this not just because of being away from and going back to my geographical home, but because I just encountered the notion of a person being the source of the home-feeling. "Well, if home is where the heart is, then my home is where you are. But it's getting oh-so-hard to spend these days without my heart..."--Reliant K. I suppose much of my sense of home is centered in my family, the only constant throughout a rather itinerant childhood. But when I come home to this house where I spent my teen years and where all my "stuff" is, it doesn't quite feel like home anymore. My parents are still here, my things are still here, but it has changed. My room is not the ordered space it was, and the array of objects on my desk was not arranged by me. I can't find bowls in the kitchen anymore, and there's no orange juice in the refrigerator. Next time I come back, the kitchen will have been remodeled.

So where is my home?

It's where I live. It's my room at school, the place I made my own. Home is the space I create around me. My heart is in many places with many people, but my safe space is where I choose it to be. "My shelter, strong tower, my very present help in time of need" is omnipresent, after all, whether I feel that or not.

1 comment:

khfitz said...

Yay, so much good food for thought! So a response, albeit a short-ish one as I'm a page and a half away from finishing an essay and going to sleep:
I've lived in my house since I was 2 (basically my entire life, barring the gurgly baby months and a couple of very fuzzy memories of a house with daffodills and bricks we lived in before), but I don't think home's a simple thing even if you've never moved houses. I went to the same school for seven years, so that [I sort of hate to admit it but it's true] became part of my definition of home as well, which I didn't completely realize until I left and discovered that it was weird to go back. Home to me is a place where you find the people that make up home, as well as a space you're comfortable in. And while my house is still both of those, it's somehow not the whole picture. I've been feeling a little bit homeless recently (to be shamelessly melodramatic. Maybe "adrift" is a more prudent description) which is not too surprising but still interesting. I like to think forward and wonder what places unknown will come to feel like home when we're older; what places and people we haven't yet seen but will eventually love. Flexibility is good, and being able to create home is good. Aww, and that just reminded me of the cute scene in A Series of Unfortunate Events (the movie version) in which the orphans put up the tent and make themselves a sanctuary... :)
But to get back on track, I've also been thinking a lot about what makes home recently, and I realized that some new places come to feel like home much more easily than others. I don't know what it is about them, but there's definitely a unique feel to places with good fit. And they're not all the ones I would expect, either. So, off to my essay again but thanks for sharing the blog, and I will see you tomorrow! Huzzah (: