Home. What is it? A place? Land? A city, a town, a borough, a house? People, community, group of likeminded folk? People who know each other’s stories and take one another for who and what they are?
Home. The story of where we come from, what we have done, the choices we have made, the connections we have forged, the relationships that have formed us and those we continue to choose. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Home. Home expands and contracts to include loved ones who come for a while and who, in turn, go again. I think of aunts, uncles and cousins who would “come in” over summers, Christmas and Thanksgiving. We would gather in together to rejoin and reform “Home” and a state of being with one another: sharing with each other and breaking bread together.
Home. I always envisioned myself in a little bungalow, or a historic spot with a postage-stamp yard and picket fence. I pictured a small shed out back for garden tools and supplies. I imagined wide windows for light by which to draw and to paint, to dry herbs and to hang lavender. A village, I suppose, would have done nicely — what with the ability to walk safely from my cottage to the grocer to gather what I needed to add to my homegrown tomatoes and squash for a plenteous supper. Home has become a moderated version of the dream.
Home. Home has expanded and contracted to include strangers and friends alike. Family members have come and gone, been born and died, were welcomed in and excused themselves from home. It’s painful to experience departure — expected or unexpected. I have never done well with it. My sister and I easily formed connections with our great aunt’s condo over 30 years ago. We called our bedroom “home” even though we were only ever there for a few days.
Home, I think, becomes the situation in which love dwells. It is all of the above. For some, it is regrettably, none of those things. Watching both from within and from a distance, I have seen those who would have been readily incorporated into the household choose to stay away, apart and at arm’s length.
Home is with one’s pet. Home is with one’s self. Home is in a bed in a long-term care facility. Home is waiting to be with one’s God.
In the end, I resonate deeply with the view of author David Grayson (1870-1946). He never mentions the word home, but I do believe he is describing it. “The sense of wishing to be known only for what one really is is like putting on an old, easy, comfortable garment. You are no longer afraid of anybody or anything. You say to yourself, ‘Here I am — just so ugly, dull, poor, beautiful, rich, interesting, amusing, ridiculous — take me or leave me.’”
Take me or leave me. Accept me or don’t. I can only be myself. I can only be at home where I am. Or else, I must seek home elsewhere. Then, I must go.
Grayson goes on to write: “And how absolutely beautiful it is to be doing only what lies within [one’s] own capabilities and is part of [one’s] own nature. It is like a great burden rolled off a [person’s] back when [s/he] comes to want to appear nothing that [s/he] is not, to take out of life only what is truly [one’s] own.”
Home. Name it. What is home?