It’s a standard conversation starter right after or just before, “What do you do?” It’s, “Where are you from?” Where’s home?
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘home’. What does that mean to me? How does it impact my life and the choices I make. I guess the reason it’s been with me so much, even if only on the periphery of my thoughts, has been because I’ve been house hunting — looking to find the space which calls to my soul and which I can still personalize so that it is mine and not another’s house which I have bought. And then there’s the fact that I’ve been on a voyage of self-discovery this past year. And my relationship with others and with places has changed as my relationship with myself has changed.
If I were to believe that home is where I grew up – the house and the neighbourhood – then I don’t have a home anymore. The house I grew up in was sold after my father died and my mother moved. I once returned to that street, parked my car, and got out and walked around looking at the houses where my friends had lived and the places where I had played. And I was a foreigner. It did not feel like home. I knew I did not belong there. And, more important for me, I did not want to recapture any of my memories or try to make myself fit into that space anymore. So…that wasn’t home.
And then I went to my old high school, a place where I had loved learning and where I had felt safe. I walked the halls and saw the plaque where my name is listed on the academic awards of the school. And I felt out of place. I no longer belonged there. I walked to the first elementary school I attended and walked and skipped down the stairs betweenRegal RoadandDavenportand back to my car. I felt out of time and place. No where could I find the ‘home’ of my childhood.
Is home where I live now? Since I’ve only owned my condo for 16 months, I could argue that it cannot be home yet. But I remember the first night that I slept in the first condominium which I owned and it did feel like home. It was the fit for me at that time. But, as I changed, it no longer fit me and living there became irksome to say the least. And, although I’ve lived inPeterboroughfor over 33 years, it has never felt like home. I still feel a bit like an interloper intruding on the grounds of those who were born there. So…neither Toronto nor Peterborough is ‘home’.
So, I’ve wondered, is home where my family is? Does my sense of connection to ‘home’ lie in the people in my life – my family and my friends? This feels closer to my sense of groundedness. I love my sisters and my nieces and nephew but my family members do not live in one single geographic area. And while I visit them, I know that, even as I am a relative, I am a visitor. I’ve know my best friend for over 58 years. In many ways, she is the sister of my heart. I’ve known my voice teacher and his family for over 15 years. They have become good friends. But while my connection to my family and friends gives me a sense of belonging and connection, it still does not provide me with a solid, certain sense of ‘home’.
What does ‘home mean to me? For me, home is a place [for want of a better work although it need not be a physical place] where I feel centered and grounded. It is that space which provides an anchor for me. Not an anchor to hold be back or to hold me fast but an anchor to hold me safe in a storm. ‘Home’ is the port to which I can return when I need silence and space to replenish my energy. It is the place from which I can venture forth to learn and explore and experience life.
In the last few months, especially as I’ve known that where I am living now is a transition space, I’ve come to understand – really understand – that my true ‘home’ for me is me. I am the place which fulfills my definition of that concept. And as I continue to think about home and moving forward in energy and physically, I remind myself that home is where I truly live. The totality of mySelf and who I truly am is home. When I am the true expression of that expansiveness, then I am home no matter where I am physically.
As long as I am true to the person I know myself to be, as long as I tell the truth to myself and others, as long as I live my life in that way, I will always be safe, I will always have the space I need to provide me with a safe harbour, I will always have what I need. I know that if I live my life knowing that I am my ‘home’, I will never be alone or unconnected. I will never be adrift.
That has been the unexpected gift to me of my house hunting.