Monday, January 16, 2012

The Idea of Home

This post has been moved to the new site. Read it there!

It bothers me. I can't seem to define it properly enough to figure out where mine is- where mine should properly be. It seems to me that home should be stable, not fluid - home should be someplace you can always go back to, not some place you are borrowing for a certain amount of time and will leave when it no longer is yours.

"This is my temporary home, it's not where I belong,
Windows and rooms that I'm passing through,
This is just a stop on the way to where I'm going,
This is my temporary home."
~Temporary Home by Carrie Underwood

Up until September of last year, I had a very solid, permanent home that fulfilled all of my needs. It was someplace that would not change, because although my family had moved relatively recently, it was a place we were planning to live in for a very long time.

Moreover, we moved from one comfortable place to another- from a place that we knew through long experience to a house across the street from my grandmother, in a neighborhood that was familiar to us already. So, you see, I was set, and meditations of this nature did not even occur to me.

"When I was a child, I spake as a child,
I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
~1 Corinthians 13:11, KJV

Then I turned 18 and went away to college, and suddenly my life changed. All of a sudden, I didn't live in a permanent, stable home with my parents and siblings; I lived in the lower half of a house, with a large living room, a crazy combination of silverware and lack thereof, and eight other girls, and now I live in an even smaller apartment with three others, freshmen all, and not enough spices to flavor a turkey.

Family Home Evening, what family? We formed groups, we drew together and pretended we were a family, but no amount of pretending concealed the fact that none of us really knew what we were doing, and we were just trying to make our way in this crazy world. With stability torn away, what else is there left to make a home?

"But home is where the heart is,
So your real home's in your chest."
~Captain Hammer, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Home is where the heart is, is it? But then, I look at where my heart is and I find myself torn. It is back "home", in my city, with my family and my friends that I know from high school, with late-night parties and hide-and-go-seek tag in the dark.

It is here, in this icy wilderness blasted by the freezing winds of nowhere land, with this new lifestyle that I love, and these people who have wild and crazy ideas and stay up past midnight and make ice-cream shakes by borrowing frozen strawberries from one person and a single banana from another, chocolate, milk, cherries with the stems still on them, and then the coveted ice cream, each from a different person throwing in whatever they have to make something chilly and exquisite.

It is in North Dakota, or Texas, or Kansas City, with tiny slivers of my family scattered across the country, and even farther away, friends I have met and known, however briefly or however long, from around the world. It's online, not even in a physical place but a mental world, where I spend admittedly too much time.

It is even with those people I knew once and know no longer, those who have moved away from me in heart or body, who I will never see again, not as they were then, but who I remember with fondness. My heart, it appears, is entirely too fractured for that adage to have much meaning.

"I have lost all sense of home, having moved about so much.
It means to me now — only that place where the books are kept."
~John Steinbeck

My "things," again, are not helpful in solving this problem, because the vast majority of my material possessions are at home, where my siblings get into my things and I can only hope that they are well-protected by my siblings' innate consciences and the fact that I put the most delicate things on the highest shelves.

Everything I need to survive on, however, is in this small two-bedroom apartment, ignoring those that were left behind when I moved. It's not exactly a luxurious lifestyle, missing many of the conveniences we take for granted in a "home" - for example, paprika. Or even a shirt that I left behind because the weather here is too cold for it to be useful, but am fond of and would wear nonetheless.

Over the Christmas break, I visited my family for a very short time, and at that point I had everything I needed to survive in a little blue duffel bag. Is the duffel bag my home, then? It seems a sorry place to call a home.

"You can know the name of a bird in all the languages
of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know
absolutely nothing whatsoever about the bird."
~Richard Feynman

I wish I had a neat little conclusion to wrap this up, but the point is that I don't, and if I did I probably wouldn't have needed to write it in the first place. I don't know what I should call my home, beyond the place that I happen to be at the moment.

Maybe after this semester ends and I return to my city it will be clearer to me, but I expect I'll just get more confused. So I leave it to you, my readers, to consider the problem and let me know what you think, because at this point any thoughts beside my own are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Yesterday someone told me that their idea of home was the place of refuge, the place you would go to escape from the world if you could go anywhere. Your most secure place. I think that's a pretty decent definition.