Home. Home base. Home team. Home run. Home cooking. Homeward bound. Fly away home. Home sweet home. What’s so special about home?
When people ask me where I’m from – where home is – I’m never quite sure how to answer. You see, the first home I really remember was the one I lived in during my kindergarten and first grade years in Massachusetts. That was 31 Michelle Lane in Randolph. In the second through fourth grades, I lived at 11907 Smoketree Road in Potomac, Maryland. Our next home — my fifth through seventh grades – was at 15 Boaz Street in Ramat Gan, Israel. And then we moved to 27 Concord Drive in New City, New York where I lived from the eighth grade through college.
So where is home for me? Since my family lived in New City for eighteen years, and since I met my husband there, that’s the hometown I go with. After New City, however, my parents moved to Boca Raton and then to Boynton Beach, Florida. They flew south and the nests they cozied themselves into have definitely not been “home” to their children.
I think it’s safe to say that all of these childhood moves had an interesting impact on my brother, sisters, and me. We stopped moving around when we grew up. Once we started our own families, we settled in, established roots, and virtually stayed put. We’ve lived in, engaged with, served, and have supported our respective communities for a long time.
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Earlier this week my husband was reading the Dunwoody Crier, our local community newspaper. As he turned to the back page, he was amused to see that our very first house – the one that our kids were born in and where we lived for ten years – was for sale. He texted the news to the kids and me, and forwarded the link for the online listing.
I immediately clicked on it. Seeing pictures of each and every room of the house was fun…at first. Most of the upgrades and additions we had made were still there, including the deck and playhouse my husband had built out back. However, a lot had changed too. I liked seeing the upgraded “gourmet” kitchen, loved the hardwood floors throughout the upper level, and admired the refinished basement. But then, flipping through the photos made me sad. Gone was any evidence that we had ever lived there. Where was my pink and blue kitchen? Where were the teal walls and soothing fish border in my baby girl’s room? Where were the bold primary colors of my little boy’s room? Where were the Fisher Price slide and swing that provided countless hours of fun in the basement? I wiped away a tear as I realized that those walls cannot talk and those foundational days are, in fact, long gone. We had moved on.
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We’ve lived in this house for fifteen years now. We moved in when our son was nine and our daughter was seven. It is this house that holds the bulk of our family stories. It has seen holiday celebrations, pool parties (unauthorized ones too!), birthdays, graduations, new jobs, growing pains, and other realities of life too. And, even though both kids are “gone,” they are not ready to leave. They insist that: (1) I do not redecorate (or eliminate) their bedrooms; and (2) that we don’t decide to downsize and move. My husband and I have promised to do our best to comply. So, to this end, I’m redecorating my main floor.
Though my family moved around a lot when I was a kid, we formed a strong family bond, had many good times, and made great memories too. But, I’m really happy that – in addition to those things – my kids have had the benefits of a strong, solid, physical base to explore life from.
Home can be many different things. It’s an emotional place where memories are made, feelings are nurtured, self-esteem is developed, and relationships are developed (both good and bad). It’s a refuge where one can escape and hide. It’s a vault where precious and valuable items are locked away. It’s an anachronism where long-standing habits, memorabilia, and traditions are preserved. It’s a mirror that reflects ones true beliefs and values. It’s a place that should be permeated with love and understanding. And, it’s a haven where I can freely be my true self.
A house can sometimes be just a house. A house can sometimes be a home. For me, my home is where my heart is.