How do you define home?
Is it a place, a sense of well-being, a frame of mind? Can you touch it, is it concrete, or do you dream of it, night after night? Have you been there before, was it a stop along the way to where you are now? Or are you there now, do you feel that sense of home all the way down to your bones?
For me, home has been everywhere, and everything.
It’s been a Baltimore rowhouse, a cramped college apartment, a quiet room in a noisy house, a studio apartment in a rehabbed mansion.
It’s been the stretch of road between DC and Nashville, a bed in a Memphis hostel, a hotel room in San Diego, a small cottage in Maine.
Home has been lying in a lover’s arms, seeing my best friend’s smile, resting my head on my Sister’s shoulders, pseudo-waltzing with the kitten.
It’s been a refuge, a sanctuary, a haven.
It’s been a resting point and a touching stone, a place to reflect on what was and to plan for what’s next.
That’s what I’ve been doing, planning for what’s next.
And I keep circling back around to the same place.
I hadn’t seen my family in a few months, so I spent the past two weekends at home. The first was for general catching up and hijinks, the second was to celebrate Easter with them.
It’s funny, I never notice how wound-up and tense I am until I get out of my car after driving home. (And yes, even though I haven’t lived there in 10 years, I still call it home.)
I danced around the front yard, barefoot, toes dusty and dirty. The sky was blue and the trees were a riot of blooms just starting to drift to the ground. The air smelled like earth and freshly cut grass, and the birds were singing a special song, just for me.
Breathing the air in, I smiled and the glimmer inside my heart told me I was home. A tiny spark of an idea turned into a fire inside of me, warming my heart, lighting up my soul.
I made a Life Decision over the weekend. I’m moving back to the area where I grew up, that will happen this year. Home — the deep down in my bones home — has almost always been there. I did fall in love with Baltimore, and pieces of me will always love its rawness, its grime, its tenacity to thrive against all odds.
But I don’t want to lay roots down there.
It turns out that I’m a country mouse, after all.
A secret: Part of me had always felt like I had to prove something: to myself, to other people, that I could create a life for myself somewhere different, someplace that was Other. That I didn’t need my family, that I was tough, a real badass, that I could do it all on my own.
And I am tough, I am a real badass, I can do it all on my own.
But I don’t really want to.
I’m ready to go home.