What Feels Like Home
Beyond a place . . .
“Because I was fifteen and generally an idiot, I thought that the feeling of home I was experiencing had to do with the car and where it was parked, instead of attributing it wholly and gratefully to my sister.”
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Home is not always a place. Sometimes it is not a house, a neighborhood, a town, or a landscape. Sometimes home is another person.
A friend once told me that she was going home to Florida for vacation. “But wait – you didn’t grow up in Florida, did you?” I asked. “In fact, you’ve never lived in Florida.” She paused. No, she hadn’t. Had she really said she was going home? Yes, I confirmed, still curious. Well, that’s where her mother lives now. She was going to visit her mother. While she hadn’t realized it before, wherever her mother was, was home.
Other times, our life partner is home. Wherever that person is, no matter the chaos, discomfort, or even danger that surrounds you, as long as you’re with that person, you feel safe and grounded. That person is home. This always makes me think of Carole King’s song, Where You Lead, I Will Follow. Or the story of Ruth in the Bible, who tells her mother-in-law, Naomi, that the only home she has now is with her:
“Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die; and there will I be buried.” (Ruth 1:16-17 KJV)
Is there someone in your life that feels like home?
I turned off my phone for Christmas. Actually, for forty hours. And it was bliss. This was my present to myself—the very best present I could ask for—a time-out, a day without interruption. I wrote a long letter (by hand) and I read a book. An entire book. I have stacks of books waiting to be read, yet, what I read that day was an impulse from the library: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. I enjoyed the book. And I really enjoyed my time alone that day. Did it feel like Christmas? No. But it did feel like home.
Whatever you did to celebrate Christmas – did that feel like home?
Sometimes home isn’t a place or traditions or people. Sometimes home is a circumstance, an energy, a feeling.
This year I didn’t do any of the holiday traditions I grew up with. But I did grow up with a lot of quiet. Quiet feels like home.
When I think of home in my early years, I see empty rooms, I feel stillness, I hear nothing. Of course, it wasn’t always quiet or empty or still. Music was a staple in our home. The classical station played softly in the background throughout the day. My mother played piano in the evenings, my sister played guitar, my brother and I practiced our various instruments. There were times our mother would wake us up on Saturdays singing or serenade me at night when I was sick. There was laughter and conversation and games of Monopoly, and eventually pinochle. The plop plop of ping pong, and the swish and clatter of air hockey. And my mother’s hair dryer while she watched TV.
But mostly, there was quiet. Quiet punctuated everything. Looking back, I lived in a sea of stillness. I’m not sure I appreciated it when I was young, but I do now. Quiet is comforting. Quiet feels like home.
What feels like home to you?
I really do hope you’ll comment and share. I’m sincerely interested.
On a completely different note, for anyone who read my last post, here is my 2023 New Year’s Day collage:
What’s with the anteater? I have no idea. Or the blonde with a bun. Or the greenhouses and gardens? The trio of women or the helium heart balloon over the head of woman in a spinal twist? I have absolutely no clue. But I’m sure I’ll find out!
And, when I took down last year’s collage, look what I found on the back!
Sometimes there are images I’m not willing to let go of, so I paste them on the backside. Do these have any special meaning for me now? No. But it does make me smile to see a bathtub. This year, I have two bathtubs in my collage…
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I feel like my own skin is finally home, this soft, vulnerable, imperfect female body, and that's a pretty amazing feeling after 51 years.
Home for me will always be the house I grew up in. No matter what life I make for mysel or with whom, I don't think that feeling will change.