I’ve thinking a lot recently about “home” and what “home” actually represents. There’s the bricks and mortar concept of home, and that’s where my thoughts started, in a conversation with big daughter as we walked around (yet another) university to see whether she thought she would like to go there. She doesn’t want to be too far from home, and that has been a big part of her choice; although she is keen to spread her wings, she wants to know that she can come home whenever she wants to. I’ve also been thinking about my Dad’s house this week and I think of that as home too, even though I’ve lived with my husband for longer than I lived with my parents now. It still doesn’t stop that feeling of familiarity as I pull onto the drive and walk into the house, which smells as it always has done and looks pretty much as I remember it from being a child.
The dictionary definition of “home” is “the place where one lives permanently, especially as part of the household”, but I believe there’s more to “home” than that. For some people, that never represents home at all, so there must be something else that provides that same feeling of security and comfort – for surely that is what “home” really means to us. It’s our anchor, our safe place, the place where we can lock the (even metaphorical) door and keep the outside world at bay. It’s not always something physical, either. For me, doing some work in the garden or sitting down to knit after a long day also feels like home. I can feel myself relaxing and know that everything’s right with the world, and it helps me to feel ready to face whatever the next day has in store.
It seems to me that “home” is actually created in our minds. It’s a place of comfortable memories, a place where we don’t have to try too hard to be someone that we’re not. We slip into regular routines but we are also free to try out new things, safe in the knowledge that we can always return to the starting point and (for the most part) it will be unchanged. I think that means that we can also have more than one “home”, which is an interesting thought. Mine is certainly where my family is, and wherever we chose to live, as long as that is the case then anywhere could be home. That’s not quite the same as the line in the song “wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home”, but more along the lines of “home is where the heart is”. Our heads and hearts are closely intertwined; sometimes too closely as we allow our heads to rule our hearts or vice versa, but it just goes to show what complicated beings we are – and how “home” is less easy to define sometimes than you might imagine. How lovely though, to feel that we can be at home anywhere, as long as we choose to think that way. We are all anchored and free at the same time, and that’s a powerfully liberating thing.