Are We There Yet?
“I was born very far from where I’m supposed to be, and so I’m on my way home.” – Bob Dylan
‘Home’ – the definition in and of itself is intriguing. It implies something stationary, yet I think it moves and morphs frequently. When I was little (until the sixth grade), home was an apartment with a hallway that I thought was a mile long, the dotted linoleum in the bedroom I shared with my sister and the kitchen. It was the night table I scratched my name into while I was talking on the phone with my dad during one of his trips to California. It was the elevator button that I couldn’t reach when I was five and decided to run away. When we moved to a larger apartment, home became both safe haven and hell – as only home can be when you are an angst-ridden adolescent.
When the boys and I went out on our own, we moved a lot. So much so that I would assure these two toddlers that home was anywhere we were together – whether we were in the car, at the supermarket, in our beds, taking a walk. As long as we were together, we were home. I remember feeling that I was saying this for myself as much as for them; our various rentals somehow didn’t offer an accurate definition or image of what I wanted our home to be. I had migrated so far from who I was, I’m not sure any four walls would have felt like a comfortable representation of home. In a very pure way, the only home was truly where the boys were, for they were really all I was sure of, my touchstone, my heart.
So it should follow that if ‘home is where the heart is’, our address should also change (figuratively) with some frequency as we find our comfort with who we and where we are. Where our love lies, where our being is at peace, where we can cocoon and soar, happy dance and hold on for dear life.
We’ve lived in our house for twenty-one years. And I’m not the same person I was when we first moved in. The walls don’t show the dirty fingerprints from little people who in principle would not use a banister. There are echoes in some places where voices used to be. We talk about moving and can’t move ourselves to do so. For over time, the house was able to adapt itself to whoever I was at any given time, holding me tightly and with safety when at my most vulnerable and unsure, and willing to open its arms when I needed room to explore and roam. It has given me different rooms to settle into depending on my mood and greets me with comforting noises that are reflective of our ongoing conversation. This house knows me well. I’ve always been a little reluctant about long-term relationships, and our house let me fall in love in my own time. It kept my children safe-ish (they did some pretty crazy things when they were younger), it held us all together until we could define ourselves as a family.
I get Dylan’s point – and I also realize that I have traveled far to arrive here. My family is my heart. My house after all this time, is my home.