Saturday, October 29, 2016

Going Home, 10.29.16

Going home.

I've always been a homebody. The idea of "home" has always been important to me, even as a kid. I was just telling a co-worker the other day that I was the kid who hated being asked to go to friends' houses for sleepovers because I just loved being home. I would find every excuse in the book to get out of going, even going so far as telling one friend, "Oh, my grandma is sick and we have to go visit her in the hospital, so I can't make it to your sleepover", which was a total, flat-out lie. (Sorry, Grandma! And sorry to that "Jesus-knows-when-you-lie", Jesus, who my mom made us very aware of at every turn!)  Another example, I used to clean all of the shoes, clothes and crap out of my side of my sister's and my closet so I could turn it into a little "home", complete with lamps, pictures on the walls, etc.  And I used to turn my pencil boxes at school into little "homes", with folded paper glued to the sides in various configurations to create "rooms" for imaginary little families.

Home, to me, is a place of refuge. A haven. My happy, safe and unguarded place. On first thought, it brings to mind a physical dwelling.  I consider myself lucky to have lived in the same house for the first seventeen years of my life. Since I left that home to make my own, I have called 10 different houses, "home".  Some were more special than others, but still, I gave each one of them my best effort to make them our "home". My husband, kids and I even set up camp in my mother-in-law's one car garage for six months while we built a house. Yes, it was a garage, but we transformed it into our home for the time we were there. When I think back on that time, I am reminded of a scene from Under the Tuscan Sun, where Diane Lane's character says, "Find one room and make it your own", as she finds refuge in one small room of her under-renovation, Tuscan villa. In other words, wherever you land, and whatever the chaos around you, find one small space to call "home", to be your place of refuge to escape from that chaos.  That garage was just one small space, but for six months, it was the only space we had that was just ours.

This house was our reward for living in a garage for six months. My kids and I are still homesick for this house. Lots of memories made there.

This, our current house, called us back home last year. We decided it was meant to be and have settled back in for the long haul.  Lots of memories made and yet to be made here.

But beyond the physical dwelling, there is another definition of "home" that should be considered. Home as a verb.


  1. (of an animal) return by instinct to its territory after leaving it:
    "a dozen geese homing to their summer nesting grounds"
    • (of a pigeon bred for long-distance racing) fly back to or arrive at its loft after being released at a distant point.

  2. (home in on)
    move or be aimed toward (a target or destination) with great accuracy:
    "more than 100 missiles were launched, homing in on radar emissions"
    synonyms: focus on · concentrate on · zero in on · center on · fix on ·

Some people don't have a regular, permanent "dwelling" that they can call home. What is "home" for the homeless? What is "home" for kids in foster care, or refugee families who are shuffled from one dwelling to the next? Sure, they can heed the advice to "find one room and make it your own", choosing any space, no matter how small or impermanent as a space to transform into a "home". But, I'm guessing that "home", to them, goes beyond anything physical.

I started really thinking about that after hearing this story on NPR's Story Corps. To this girl in the story and her siblings, who were taken from their mom due to her heroin addiction, "home" was, and is, their mom.

I'm very lucky to still have both of my parents. To me, they are still "home". We don't see each other often and we sometimes disagree on things and I'm sure if we were forced to live in the same house again, we would probably want to kill each other, but still, they are "home". They were the first ones who gave me a home and everything physical that I needed, they protected me, they took care of me when I was sick, they set boundaries for me, they taught me right from wrong and gave me the desire to work hard and do something good with my life. They have known me since the moment I was born. I am part of them. And I know that, no matter what, in the end, they are on my side.

That same feeling applies to my kids. To me, they are also "home". I was the first to give them everything physical that they needed, I protected them, I took care of them when they were sick, I set boundaries for them, I taught them right from wrong and  hopefully,  gave them the desire to work hard and do something good with their life. I have known them since the moment they were born. They are part of me. And, yes, we also sometimes disagree and if forced to live together again, we would probably want to kill each other, but in the end, they are my "home". And I hope that I am "home" to them and that they know, no matter what, in the end, I am on their side.

Being "home", whether physical or emotional, means being supported, protected and having a steady place to land.  No matter what. 

And on that note, I'll leave you with a couple of songs- Home by Philip Phillips and 93 Million Miles by Jason Mraz

I hope you are having a great weekend!   Juli

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