Am I homeless?
Where is my home?
What makes a home?
I’m reminded of the P.D. Eastman (Dr. Seuss) classic, Are You My Mother? With each turn of the page, baby bird asks “Are you my mother?” Page after page, no affirmative response is found.
I ask myself, almost as often as others ask me, “where is home?”
Could Las Vegas be home? I was born there. Could the Oklahoma house be home? Our ranch style home with a big backyard, trees for climbing, a basketball hoop in the front, and a swing set out back was the house where I spent the longest continuous stretch of time. Could Okinawa be home? I spent six of my most formative years in this island paradise, albeit divided by a six year stent in America. Is Colorado home? I have spent over a decade in this beautiful state and currently reside here. Can I call a whole state home or would I need to pick one of the seven spaces I’ve inhabited during the last ten years? Is Virginia home? As a seventh grade student being told she was moving across the globe in a matter of weeks, nowhere on the planet felt more like home. Could Alabama be home? I almost laugh recounting the mere ten months I spent in a town where it can’t be determined whether the good-ol-boy-racism or the combined heat and humidity were more stifling. The one factor that lets Alabama keep its’ place on the list is that it is the one place where we lived that I can picture my dad in the home.
Perhaps all of these places are home. Or maybe none at all.
What is a home?
Online dictionaries defined the word with several similar descriptions varying only by small nuances.
Below are definitions that struck within me a twinge of longing.
-the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered
-the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household
-an institution for people needing professional care or supervision
Home – the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered. My domestic affections do not center on any house, nor do they land on any town, base, or city.
Home – the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. The only place I’ve ever planted myself permanently is earth. I’m just not akin to permanence. My family was a hodgepodge of my immediate family, the awacs community, and the body of Christ, all of which were in a constant state of flux.
Home – an institution for people needing professional care or supervision. I cannot imagine a place feeling less like home than a facility. Circumstances may necessitates such a living situation, but the term home should never have to be shared with such a place devoid of all comforts and familiarity.
I may not have a place to call home, but my heart did; it felt at home with him. In his arms. By his side. My domestic affections were centered on him. With him, I planned to live permanently, especially as members in our little family. Amidst the protective bounds of the institution of marriage we could live cared for and supervised. Housed within an unswerving loyalty, I felt free to rest in the comfort and familiarity of life together – home.
This home burned to the ground, like every other ‘home’ of my childhood.
I begin to gather the things – the mementos, symbols, and reminders of a life that was, that is no longer. I save things as a way to preserve the memories of the lives I’ve left behind. I keep shells, journals, photos, rocks. I hold each tangible piece of my life in the palms of my hands and I do my absolute best to freeze time. I grasp at each grain of sand as it falls through through my fingers and through the hourglass, begging for just two more minutes (mittens). No one hears my pleas. Time moves on and I must find a new home. I slowly press on. I look back. I always look back. With me I drag bags and boxes filled to the brim with the representations of home.
I carry home with me, exhausting as it may be.