Home, is where the heart is.
Home. So many times I’ve thought about this topic, so many times I’ve thought about what “home” really is. Is home a place? Is it really tangible, material, and/or physical? Or is it more like a state of mind? Could it be a combination of the two?
I think that after my recent travels I’ve come to a semi-solid conclusion about what home means, to me at least. However, to flesh out that conclusion, a little story is necessary for context. – Ahem-
When I was little, home meant something very different to me than it does now. Home was a house. Home was a little house for me and my mommy and daddy, and my little brother too. It was very real and very much connected to my sense of security. Just thinking about it makes me feel safe and warm. Then we moved to a new house, and my idea of home changed a little, though not drastically. Home was now a little wilder looking, a little different feeling, though it was still secure. I started to realize that home was more or less the sun that I revolved around. Yes, I went to school, but then I came back home. I went to grandma and papa’s, but knew that I would go back home. If we went to visit anywhere, even the grocery, there was this awareness that “home” was the place you returned to. Home is permanent and everywhere else was temporary.
As I grew up, and as my life changed, so did my home. We moved a few times in the space of a few years. As a consequence, my idea of what “home” was changed with every move. I’m only aware of this as I reflect on it in the present time. I think that during that point in my life I struggled with the concept of “home” because I didn’t trust that it would be our home for very long. Then along came the point in every child’s life where things start to change on the inside and out; adolescence. With puberty came detachment from family, and attachment to others, as I tried to figure out my place in the world. My view on home, friends, and who I was supposed to be was fraught with hormonal strife. “NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME I HATE BEING HERE I CAN’T WAIT TO LEAVE THIS STUPID COUNTY, ” would sum up my adolescence quite nicely. I’m sure my family would echo that expression. “Home”, as a physical space, no longer suited this teenage brain.
By the end of my teen years, my family and I had been established at one address for a while. I no longer hated the idea of being around my family for extended periods of time, but I also had yet to become confident in my identity as an individual. My post-puberty self was still conflicted on this idea of “home”. Mainly because this last physical space, this permanent address, didn’t give me that same feeling that “home” did as a child. It is still the place that I return to after work or classes, but it just doesn’t feel right. However, when the opportunity for me to attend school out of state presented itself, I downright panicked. As much as I didn’t feel at home in this house we all shared, as much as I wanted to be my own person, I was still very afraid of leaving what was familiar. Yes, I hated it. But I realized I also hated the possibility that I would fail as an adult while on my own and away from what was safe.
I also found myself in the beginning of a relationship that was unlike any other. I knew that if I moved away, it wouldn’t sustain. This also scared the crap out of me. This hormonal-emotional bullshit was supposed to be over! Why does a person feel like “home” and not a place? I don’t understand! What does this mean?! This was new and didn’t fit into the way I saw the world. The one thing that I understood, though, was that this person was special to me. I needed to see where it would go, even if I didn’t have my life on track the way I thought it “should” be. I was 19 and still afraid of being myself; I thought that no one really liked you for who you are, only what they can get from you, which was very sad now that I think on it.
Naturally, I didn’t trust “home” in any sense of the word. I was paranoid and unfulfilled. I did’t know what I was supposed to do, what my life should be like, so I retreated into my own head. I went through a period of my life that was decent enough on the surface, but mistrust and confusion poisoned me like a slow gas leak. Eventually, a match was struck and my world went up in flames.
I survived. It forced me to confront a lot of things about myself and my relationships; not just my relationships with those I care about, but also with certain ideas and concepts that I had held onto, even though they no longer served me. Love, compromise, trust, authenticity, friendship, power, and joy were all concepts that I had to re-evaluate and redefine for myself. I see it as the positive aspect of what I went through. My own sort of mid-life crisis, rise from the ashes, “I’m better for having suffered through this” experience that perhaps others don’t face until they’re much older. Much ado to say that I’m in a better place at 26.
However, I’m still not comfortable saying with certainty that “home” is ___________. As I mentioned at the top of this post, I’ve come to a reasonable semi-solid conclusion after many moons. After having the opportunity to travel abroad, first for school and more recently for work, I found that homesickness is a very real thing. Yet, in order for you experience “homesickness”, wouldn’t you think that you have to know what “home” actually is? Apparently this is not a pre-requisite. Which led me to wonder, on my ten hour flight, if maybe home is more of a state of mind than something you can touch. It requires a greater sense of attunement to who you are as a person, and how you move about in the world. Home to me could be synonymous with love, and joy, and peace, and any other abstract that makes you feel whole.
Walking on the beach at sunrise. Driving home from work on a beautiful day. Cuddling at night with my partner. Watching my brothers goof off together.
If home is feeling content and safe, then it can not be ascribed to any one place permanently. I learned that from my childhood. It can be found in people, but not at the depth love can. Although, feeling that sense of “home” with someone is a good indication that friendship can grow.
As a Pagan, I don’t think I believe that there is a spiritual “home”, per say, like the Christian Heaven. I think that the Gods reside on another spiritual level, and even though we aim to be at that “level”, we don’t achieve that here and now. So, not quite Heaven, not quite reincarnation, is how I think of it. I know that as a polytheist, and I know some will disagree with me here, that all Gods/esses are facets of the Divine. Again, I feel that home stems from a level of comfort and peace, which is why it could be synonymous with any other positive feeling.
Home is balance and peace of mind; that’s how I define it at this point in my life. I know that I am truly home when I’m with my partner. Even though we share a space, it’s not the same without him. Home is the balance we share with each other, which makes makes our love so much sweeter.
What do you think? What does home mean to you? Has it changed over time?
Writer, Wannabe Artist, Overthinker, List-Maker, Photographer, Chronic Under-Salter