This notion of home is something I’ve seen a lot lately in writing. More specifically, what home means. Some people have had one home their entire life and some have had many. Home for them is a house or a place, an object or a person(s). Home could even be yourself. Body or mind. In many cases, the answer is yet to be discovered. The connotation I see most often however, is the place where you grew up- being from when you’re born until you graduate the public school system and then are determinably an adult (have finished growing). It’s not a universal definition, that’s for sure. Not everyone goes to school and not everyone has a family unit.
And to ensure the evolving nature of the answer is not discounted: home can change over time.
I personally spent this last year in limbo, between visiting the family house and living in my Toronto apartment. The first fall of living alone, I spent the longer amount of time away from parents then I’d ever have in my life. Which would indicate that my new apartment was in fact my new home but I didn’t feel situated. I wasn’t close with my roommates and didn’t have a space that was solely my own.
This past August my parents sold our childhood ‘home’. We first moved there when I was eight. A new house at the time, we spent the summer prior to the move living at our grandparent’s cottage while the construction finished up. We lived in two other houses before that, my mom, dad, sister, the dogs and I. That’s my family unit if you haven’t gathered. Two parents, one sister, two dogs. I built forts with my sister in that house, and snuck down the stairs with her on Christmas morning. I had my first boyfriend over for dinner in the dining room. I had my first real kiss in my bedroom. I watched movies on the couch with both dogs when I was sick. We danced with my dad in the kitchen while he made dinner.
On my last day in that house before the closing date, I forgot to enact my usual sentimental tendencies. I didn’t look around, or lay down on my bedroom floor to take in the space a final time. I didn’t even caress the railing on the way down the stairs like they do when they sell long kept houses in movies. Instead I grabbed my bags and rushed out so I wouldn’t miss the train back to Toronto. I was eighteen.
My family moved into a smaller house in a neighborhood across from our old one, in the same city. My sister will tell you that I don’t live there, that I live in Toronto. And it’s true, I seldom visit. I don’t have my own room there and a house without a designated space doesn’t feel like a house I’m supposed to be in so much as one I’m visiting. That’s a little of my privilege tearing into this story, I’ll admit. I know that people grew up in much smaller homes and still called them just that. So a personal space does not define home in any aspect. Just a space in general. A bed across from your brother’s in a small room with little floor space is your space. It’s designated for your inhabitance. Without that space, you’re a guest.
And so I am, a guest in my parent’s house. I’ve reached an age where that’s exactly what I’m supposed to be. I have my own life, aside from the one I grew up with, and my own sense of home. Just, what is that?
I’ve attempted to find it in men (to some degree) and concluded that it cannot be found there. Home is not in love. It’s around it. Home can be made with another but only because it’s already within yourself.
So there it is, finally. The point I’ve been going on and on about. Is it possible that amidst all the questions about what home is, society is discounting the very nature of where it comes from? The fact that it’s entirely based in memories and emotions. That it’s all personal.
I think that within all of us, roots exist that can be applied to any living situation. Not just memories because those can be bad, but a sense of self. And I’m not saying that it’s easy to know what this is either. People go their entire lives trying to figure out who they are, but I’m confident that certain intangible roots influence them to do that.
When I’m hell bent on getting back to my apartment because it’s freezing cold outside, all I can think about is that I’m going to have a hot shower or curl up in the fetal position with my blankets. When I get there, the most comfortable position I can take is sitting on my bed with the blankets wrapped around me. Even alone, I feel weirdly secure. Perhaps that’s something I took to doing as a kid that just stuck with me. The same way that I like the smell of fresh water or enjoy excessive amounts of wood in all it’s ugliness because it reminds me of a cottage. I smile at dogs when I’m walking alone and I put hot sauce on most of my food. And for some reason I pride myself on those things.
No wait, not some reason. The very reason that I’ve been talking about this whole time.
I pride myself on those things because they, along with the people I love, are ‘home’ for me.