8/14/08

Home

What is home? Or Where is Home? Over the last few days my heart has been contemplating these questions. It's sort of like trying to contemplate "what is a friend" though. In our lives friends come and go but the real ones are always there, if nowhere else in our hearts. My friend Arthur has been gone three years now. At least weekly if not more frequently, however, I find myself seeing or watching something and thinking "Arthur would LOVE this" or "Arthur would think that is sooo funny". I miss him, but I have him in my heart as I do many friends who are still here.

So...back to home. The home in Tennessee where I grew up is and will always be home to me. That being said, that home has changed. The community has changed which has changed the dynamics and function of that particular plot of land. As my Mom has aged (say it isn't so) her ability to manage that home has waned and she's now contemplating selling it and moving somewhere closer to some of my siblings. If I were to go there after she sells it, would it still be home? No it wouldn't because it is home only through the memories of my family growing up there, my mother nurturing us and teaching us how to farm and memories of friends I once had in that area who are now grown and moved on. Home would still be in her kitchen, whereever that kitchen is. The "home" she has described to us in her well written memoires does not even exist any longer but I feel it when I read her accounts.

My Grandmother's house in Athens, Alabama was tiny and efficient. It was home away from home for me whenever I was allowed to go and stay. I grieved the selling and release of that house as she transitioned into full-time nursing care. My mother gifted me with Grandmother's old couch and the "corner cabinet" which was made for Aunt Birdie, grandmother's oldest sister in the 1920s. It's a rough old cabinet made in a time when materials were harder, heavier and more difficult to smooth over. It's now a very important part of my current "home" - part of what makes it feel like home to me.

In my life, I have moved with my family many times to many different places. Each move involved uprooting my life and taking my few treasures to a new location at which point we would work at settling into the current community and becoming somewhat functional. Always, with each house - I felt "at home". We remodeled and made each house suit our tastes and somehow each house was "home". While we were there, we felt it was where we were intended to be for that time.

My mother once told me that if she said "let's go" I was in the car before she got it out of her mouth. It was not until a few years ago that my spirit actually sensed a desire to actually stay in one place and call that one place home. Perhaps my body is tired or perhaps my spirit wants me to rest, but I am having to adjust to the new desire to make my current home my future home. My new quest to "settle" has resolved me to re-address what "home" may be to me.

There are tons of cliche's out there about home and what may be home. I can only tell you with me, home is where I return after a long day. Home is the life I live and the people I live it with. Home is the sun coming through the back door, warming me as I sit at the table. Home is my Mother's Russian Tea and the conversation I still enjoy having with her. Home is my husband's grilled chicken, shared on paper plates with friends. Home is the sound of my daughter's horrid music playing in the distance. Home is puppies, blind cats, blind horses, old horses, and all the strays that show up to be nurtured. Home is where I grieve for things gone past and things never to be.

I could go on all day after thinking about this because home is really a simple thing. It's a feeling, a comfort, a memory. Home is the life we are living and our comfort in that life. If there is no comfort, we are not home. In my life, however, I have managed to make "home" out of some pretty discomforting situations because most of all for me - home is my attitude towards the circumstances within which I am surviving. I am a survivor, so home is always easy to find.

2 comments:

Nancy M. said...

Before I was born my parents moved to the city to work in the mill. I grew up the whole time in one house in that city. But, we always went back to where they grew up all the time. So, to me that felt more like home. That's where we moved last year and it's wonderful!

"JEANNELLE" said...

I'm catching up on your posts......I've neglected reading other blogs for a couple weeks.

This post is bringing tear to my eyes. First of all, in your first paragraph, when you mention a friend who is now gone......I find myself that way, too.....a friend died tragically a few years ago, and I so often wish he was still around to talk and laugh with. I miss hearing his voice and his laugh. But, I can never tell anyone that.

And, you speak of "home". It is difficult, when our old childhood home changes, as when last May's tornado went through the farm I grew up on, and the whole neighborhood was changed forever. I mean the farmsteads were all demolished....the land stays the same, of couse. I felt physically ill after seeing the destruction of what had been so familiar to me. Thankfully, there was no loss of life.

And, I get a pang when I drive by the house where my grandma used to live. Someone else owns it now, and has remodeled it, changing its appearance from what I knew. Thus, you are correct to say that "home" is a memory, or that is what it must end up becoming.