Sunday, February 18, 2018

Defining home.

The concept of home has been on my mind a fair amount lately -- ever since I closed a chapter in my own life by selling my interest in the house in which I grew up. I tell the story in the memoir I'm working on, so you'll get to read it eventually. But now I find myself in an odd position: for the first time in my life, I have the opportunity to define my own home.

For many people, I think, this is a no-brainer. Home is where they grew up -- the place where their parents still live, maybe, and where they return for family holidays. The house I grew up in doesn't have that kind of resonance for me. I moved out nearly forty years ago; for the first twenty of those years, I worked in radio, and scheduling prevented me from forming the habit of returning home for the holidays. Then, too, my father has been dead for more than thirty years; my mother, for ten. If you define home as people more than place, my childhood home has been gone for many, many years.

By my age, a lot of people have bought a house (or two) and settled in for several decades -- and then that structure becomes home. But owing to those years I spent in radio, moving from city to city and from job to job, I was rarely able to settle in one place for long enough to make that kind of planning possible. So for the most part, I've parked my stuff in a succession of rental properties. And while they all met the need at the time, and while I called them home in a colloquial sense ("I got home at..." or "I'll be home tonight" or something like that), they were never places where I put down roots for very long.

Again, if home is people more than place, then of course I'm home when I'm with my daughters. But it's different now that they're adults. We all live in the same apartment for now, but they have their own interests and friends, their own way of doing things -- as they should. It's natural and normal and I'm not sad about it. But home feels different than it did when they were little.

And now that I'm getting close to retirement age, I have an opportunity to define a place that might very well be home for the rest of my life. I'm without touchstones for this task. There's no need to base my decision on the usual factors: proximity to the job or to good schools. I almost need to rewrite my list of must-have and would-be-nice features.

And I have the whole, wide world to choose from, in a way that's never been available to me before. Sure, many places are impractical or impossible for one reason or another -- too hot, too cold, too expensive -- but that still leaves a lot of options.

It's all a little daunting.

I told a friend not long ago that my decision will ultimately come down to way the place feels when I get out of the car and put my feet on the ground. When the earth there reaches up and grabs me and draws those roots out of my soul, that's when I'll know I've come home.

These moments of homey blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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