Home is memories of meals, holidays, celebrations.
Home is feelings of belonging and estrangement.
Home is not always where the heart is, nor is it where one lives.
There was a brick house with faded white paint on Edgewood Terrace that used to be my home. I can’t remember the color of the window shutters now. I do remember the large oak tree that lived outside my bedroom window. That tree provided memorable leaf piles for raking and jumping in with delight.
It was a large house with space enough for everyone to spend time in separate rooms. It was not a warm house. Not because of the radiators that banged when they turned on or the single pane windows or poor insulation.
I lived in that house for six years with my family and thought of it as home for a long time.
College dorm rooms and apartments with roommates weren’t home.
Even the house I bought with my first husband didn’t feel like home. We moved from Virginia to Idaho, a huge culture shock.
Does that mean home is what’s outside, too? The neighborhood? The city? The home state?
The answer to this riddle is in the one place I truly call home. The one I had, the one I left behind.
“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering.’ So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.” – Milan Kundera
I remember standing on the land, looking at the red rock formations and saying, “This is a slice of heaven.”
We hired Charlie Parker to build our “dream home.” It’s a myth. We came close to getting what we wanted once we picked out an affordable plan and scaled our purchases to fit the budget. We moved into a beautiful brand new house with brand new appliances, brand new paint, brand new fixtures. When we moved out it was listed as an older home.
Our girls grew up in a place I always dreamed of as a kid, a place with room to roam outside. I was the one who roamed the most. I walked everywhere with our dogs, up the Cove, over to Sawmill pond, hiked the Flume Trail and Pine Ridge.
I cast magical circles to the four directions in all seasons, a solitary practitioner. I paid attention to the moon and sun rising and setting, listened to coyotes, let deer eat my flowers and bird seed. Twenty acres at the end of a dead end road, an alpine desert filled with cedar, junipers and sagebrush. My home. I became indigenous to the land over time.
I bought a plot in Dry Fork Cemetery. Part of my Croning Ceremony was spent lying on the ground there, waiting for the dawn. I wish I hadn’t sold it.
We lived in Castle Cove for many years. I knew the road home – drove it in a whiteout because it was familiar, part of a routine. Like feeding llamas in the snow, shoveling a path to their shed, running the snowblower, hauling in firewood, tending the garden.
Home is more than knowing where to find the light switches in the dark.