one word: home
Home has never been a “place” for me. I think that’s because my family moved many times in my early childhood and then again when I was 15, and I never quite felt settled as a result. I did feel settled before that final family move, because I had lived in one town for seven years by then and had become a teenager with friends and the possibility of life on the horizon. Moving away turned my life upside down, and I handled it very, very badly. And I never allowed myself to call the new place “home”.
Instead, the idea of home is attached to people. To family, of course, but also to the friends I’ve had over the years. I feel more “at home” in certain company than I ever have in a specific place, and that feeling of nostalgia that most people get when returning to a physical site has always been reserved for people in my life. No matter how many times my aunts and uncles have moved, I’ve always felt at home in their neighborhoods because that’s where they were. Visiting Grandmother and Grandpa in their lake community, as a child, was really about being in their presence and not at all about the house or fantastic sand pit in the back. Had these loved ones lived somewhere else, I would still call that home. And the reverse is also true: although my other grandmother lived in the same house the entire time I was growing up, it never felt like home because she never felt like home. There was no warmth and no welcome in her spirit or her house, so I never settled in. Nor do I consider my home to be that place I moved at 15 and where I lived the majority of 20 years. There is no warmth associated with that town, and there is nothing holding sway over me. I have only acquaintances from all that time there — Facebook friends — and cannot consider that place “home”.
The old quote is true: Home is where the heart is. My heart is with my parents, my sisters and brothers-in-law, my niece and three nephews. It is with my aunts and uncle and many, many cousins. It is with those few friends who walk a spiritual journey alongside me, who encourage and support and pray me through the challenges. This is my home. They are my home. And as long as there are people in my life who love me and allow me to love them in return, I will always find my home in multiple locations around the world. No buildings required.