home : transitionally speaking

Carl V. at “Stainless Steel Droppings” posted recently about “Blog-Off” which is an organized effort to inspire and refresh bloggers. Regardless of what you blog about regularly, a topic is introduced and you are invited to approach it however it strikes you and hopefully feel a rejuvenating stretch of a change in posture. I meant to write a post on today’s focus this past weekend, but I didn’t. So, please bear with the barely edited (as usual—sorry). I did have (the husband) Sean have a read first. Shall I quote his response? Nevermind, we’ll just start shall we?

For this “Blog-Off”the prompt was: What is Home?


I’ve known people who have lived in the same house for most of their childhood. It sounds lovely to have such a singular location, such an immovable object. Even a singular person with their continuously beating heart and museum of memories are not so immovable, not so unchangeable.

My family moved often enough as a child that even when we were stationed in one place for a long enough while, the town couldn’t feel like home. And truthfully, we were raised to not want to go back. My mother made herself the nest and when we had learned to fly, when we were shoved out into the world, what was home shifted and was temporarily suspended mid-air.

If Home were an object to inhabit, and if it were to look like an actual building, I was sent from the kitchen to my room to continue to construct my castle there, to work out the dreamscapes and negotiate the less abstract topography. When it was time to go, Mom and Dad and the siblings and I exchanged keys, each keeping the others’ knowing it would not be lost and it would always work; though goodness knows sometimes it is complicated because the house is rarely the same.

Home was never meant to remain stationary. We were meant to take Home with us, and leave prints where we would, gather others to us when we could. Home had a breath and a heartbeat of its own. And sometimes it was lonely, sitting inside me and waiting, suffering my passable company, sifting and organizing memories and wondering how to fit objects into smaller boxes, or into one 50 lb. piece of luggage. Sometimes Home felt that far away; more a destination than that which I held inside me; something I anticipated or remembered rather than possessed and experienced.

I nurtured a child inside me once; a sweet growing daughter who never ceases to become more and more a part of me, rather than less and less. My thoughts about keys and locks and access fast become complicated. I mean, the husband doesn’t have a key to exchange and locks are laughable if not frightening. There aren’t any doors. I’m thinking motion sensors now, or voice activation, or some sort of scan that grants immediate recognition, immediate access.

There are people you meet that you find such an effortless connection, an unforeseeable level of comfort. You are drinking their whiskey you found in a cupboard in the kitchen. You know where the glasses are and you’ve the urge to drink straight from the bottle, because you know you could, even if you won’t.

Home is a place that exists in a moment. It is both a moment that can be revisited in memory or dreaming and one that can be summoned up consciously (or no) given the right company. The moment can exist as long as there is time or breath and whether it has discernable words and feeling.

I am not threatened by the idea of Home’s intangible qualities. On the contrary, I find it vastly reassuring. I didn’t have the luxury of the immovable growing up, the guarantee of always being greeted with the same. Even having a human (like my mom) as an image of Home was and is an ever moving and maturing visage, despite the façade. As constant as love may be, it manifests itself in a number of ways. It evolves. For the sake of my existence, my sanity, I am glad of this. I am thankful for the changing human, for the relationships given, for the many ways to love and be loved, for the accessibility of Home. Home: where it is safe, where I can be my self, where I am as complicated as I am simple to read, where I am unexpected and wholly predictable, where I can be generous and gracious, and where I will very likely burp at the table. Home is where I and other have possibility.

As lovely the image of the singular and immovable, it is the limited aspect that cripples me in my imagining of it: It is not that I am afraid to feel loss, so much as the sense of hopelessness that would inevitably follow if it or they are gone, I would be unable to find a new Home again–because if I am still to keep breathing, I want a place in which to do it. I need to love and feel loved. I need to feel safe. I need to nurture and feel welcome. … I need Home.

Published by L

I read, and I write. and until recently, I sold books.

10 thoughts on “home : transitionally speaking

  1. In a way when I think of home in the abstract, I tend to think about the home I grew up in. It was a house first built about 1880 in Helena, Montana, and as a child I would enter it on a very hot day, with sweat popping off my brow, and always be cooled, because of the way they have to insulate those houses against the harsh winters. But it seemed to my childish eyes the perfect place.

    I do understand the concept of home as the people you live with. Certainly, that is how I feel about my wife of 35 years. But to me, home is still a building.

    I enjoyed your take on this, though, as I do all the others who took the time to contribute. I write mine in advance of the day and make it a point to never look at the others until I’ve posted. I always think mine is the exactly right one when I post it, but then I read all those others like yours that are equally exactly right. Sometimes more exactly right!!

    1. It is a wonderful thing how so many different approaches and perspectives can ring so true. My parents didn’t move much in their respective childhoods and there is a such a solid connection to the house and land and community in which they grew up. I like to hear the stories, and in a way I suppose their constant has become my own. I know they seem to have sought out an amalgamation of their childhoods in settling into retirement. Did you grow up around cousins and grandparents and such? that is something I would really really like to change. We’ve kinda adopted friends’ kids as nieces and nephews and found parent-aged people in community, but I never experienced growing up around blood-kin (like my siblings get to experience); I do feel I am missing something there.

      We lived in Bozeman for a year. Montana is absolutely gorgeous.

  2. great post. I’m trying to remain present to the idea that “Home was never meant to remain stationary. We were meant to take Home with us, and leave prints where we would, gather others to us when we could” but it’s a struggle sometimes.

  3. I’m one of those relatively stationary people. I grew up in tiny Bremen, KY, pop. 800, and most of them somehow blood-related. I may have lived in ten different buildings growing up, but all of them were still in Bremen, among friends and family. I am inexplicably tied to this place, to the people I grew up with, played with, churched with. And yet, while my love for Bremen is fond, I had to escape it, too, lest I fall victim to its single-mindedness, for Bremen is a place of open racism, bigotry, and rampant drug-use.

    I live an hour away now and often dread trips to Bremen, but deep within, I know that this is my people. I have been shaped and molded, loved and tended, judged and approved, by them. There is love there. There is loss. It is stagnant and stubborn, but my heart no longer belongs to its clutches. I have intentionally forsaken my homeplace, at least physically. On the inside, though, I know I am forever bound to its destiny (and apparently prone to waxing melodramatic).

    Great post, L. Love the whiskey metaphor. It’s very true.

    1. thanks, Logan.

      (I like when you wax melodramatic.) sounds nice growing up getting to know extended family and a long-standing community; I’ve taken trips with my parents, and Sean who could point out the locations where many a great story took place in their hometowns. Both Sean’s parents grew up in ABQ but in very different parts and ways. It is fun to hear those memories as well, re-mapping the city (into something notably nicer). Fortunately they all adapted well to leaving Home and have expansive and evolving notions of Home; I was thinking about those who only come by this via loss, and from my own response to losses.

  4. No matter where I have lived, Dayton, Ohio has always been my home, even though I grew up 30 minutes west of Dayton in a small town. I have also lived in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and New York. But they are not home. Great post! Very thoughtful!

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