I have had a lot of homes. Due to my father’s career, we lived in seven different places by the time I turned seven and another two by the time I married. My husband and I likewise moved quite a bit in our early years, living in four different places in the first three years, with a total to date of five.
It was a family joke growing up that we had a bit of gypsy in us (at least my dad and I); that we needed to move every so often to feed our restless nature. We both need to find new things to inspire us, and for a while this need was met by changing our surroundings. In sharp contrast, my husband lived in the same house his entire life (well, until he married me). His father and grandfather were both born and grew up in the same house that his great grandparents owned since 1912.
Despite the fact that I thrive on change, I love old things: old houses, furniture, clothing, photos, even letters. I treasure these things because they have a history, they hold stories. These old things speak of traditions. As I met people who had stayed put for most of their lives, I found the idea of having the stability and familiarity of living one’s entire life in the same place intriguing and weirdly comforting.
Now I find I have lived in the same house for 20 years and don’t feel that need to move on. I have found other ways to fill my need for change; perhaps it is as simple that I have discovered that a place isn’t necessarily a home.
A home is a feeling, a state of being, a comfortable place where you are accepted and loved, just as you are. I think this is shown in the way many of us can refer to more than one place as “home.” It can be the place we currently reside, the place our parents live or even a college dorm. When my husband and I were dating, our family homes were about 25 minutes away from each other, our dorms were in a different state, separated by a river in the same city. But during that time, we found we were referring to home as whichever place the other was. It is no surprise then that Billy Joel’s, “You’re My Home” was our wedding song.
Home is also a community. It can be a physical community, such as the charming small town we have embraced as our own for the past 24 years, or a community of people, such as the neighbors who have become family, and even in today’s world, the virtual communities we have joined to share our stories. I have been blessed to have found several such groups that just feel “right.” They include people with shared interests, and more importantly shared values. These communities are places that I feel safe stating my opinions, even if others do not completely agree. We celebrate what we have in common, knowing that we all have our own experiences that influence us. We don’t have to all be the same to like and respect each other.
Looking at any or all of these definitions, right now, my view from home is pretty darn good.