We spend a large part of our lives trying to find our way home. The trouble is we don’t have the aptitude for it that cats do.
Taken in that context, what is Home?
It is not just a shelter with roof and four walls. It’s the place we feel most authentically ourselves. It provokes a yearning when we have lost it, or when we brush up against an old memory. I asked Dr. Advice to recall the feeling he had when he thought of his grandparents old farm in Dublin; not the house specifically, but the memory of family when he was there. It places “Home” in the realm of feelings.
I developed no strong memories from our travels during my early childhood, but the final years of high school while living in the house my great-grandfather had built in Alameda, CA, gave my first sense of continuity, of being a part of something larger than my immediate family.
In my first summer living with the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico, I began to feel a part of the Pueblo life as I roamed unchallenged through the villages with my friend and guide Georgia Abeita, making pottery and painting. The example of their quiet acceptance that life would continue as it had for timeless eons was contagious. That feeling never varied through the 40 years that Dr. Advice and I visited New Mexico and Arizona each year. I breathe the clear early morning air and feel that I may be close to home.
We each create our own version of Home. A favorite niece, mother of four, anticipating the future arrival of many grandchildren, insisted upon a very large kitchen sink, suitable for bathing babies. Having come from a large happy family, the concept of home included lots of babies, who would all grow to think of her house as Home.
My excitement was strong upon arriving in Seattle in the 70″s and we took up country living for the first time. The old house and the barn we built with our own hands tied me to the property like nothing before had done. In the five years we lived there I grew to know and love the area like the back of my hand, but when the moving van had removed furniture from our old farmhouse near the Lake, a friend remarked that it had only taken a few hours to make a home a house.
Though my father had loved the sea, he was eager to return to the place he had been born, and which he had left at the age of 18. So after nearly 30 years at sea he built a house in the countryside in Grants Pass, intent upon returning to the land. He bought a cow, a horse, some rabbits and some geese. A few years later the house burned to the ground, and I sensed that he had a certain feeling of relief. He was now free again to travel with my mother without the obligations that a brick and mortar house brought. The ownership of “house” did not give him the feeling of “home” that he had missed.
A few years later my mother missed having roots and the balance it had given to her life for a few short years, and went shopping alone one day and bought a house on the coast in Brookings, OR. I’m happy to say that my father adjusted to the idea that this tiny woman finally said “Like it or not, I’m through being a wanderer.”
Though a particular house or building is not the kind of Home I speak of, in many cases it may surely be a part of the feeling of home. Many years after I had married I felt the insult strongly when I returned to Auntie’s house and found it changed beyond my recognition. How dare the Intruders who stepped in and bartered my childhood memories?
We deposit much of our energy and love into making a home. Children come and go, friends enter and exit, beloved pets become part of the equation. The celebration of holidays, and of important life occasions, add patina. Happiness and some sadness both burnish and tarnish, forming the Whole of Life.
For the past 40 years we have lived in our present home. When we first arrived in our town of Centerville 60 years ago, it had a population of 6,000, now there are 225,000 people living here and it has become the city of Fremont, CA. We have become a part of the community and our roots have taken hold much as the trees and plants which make up our garden. This is Home.
Home truly is where the heart is. Where we achieve our balance.