Home Is Where You Make It

 
New Jersey, U.S.A.
 
We’ve been here for just about 24 hours, and already Paris seems like a dream, Sydney even more so. What is it about one’s childhood home that has such a pull on the memory and the psyche?
 
Inherited Places
 
I feel very much like I’ve jumped into the center of my ‘inherited life’.  At the core of that is the house in which I’m writing this, where I grew up and my mother lived for over fifty years.
 
Outside the house are the street and town where my brother and I rode bikes in the summer and went sledding in the winter, and the elementary school where we attended kindergarten through Grade 8.  Some of the neighbours are still the same.
 
Beyone our small town is the larger suburb where my father lived and where we went to high school.  Both of my parents still live within ten minutes of here.  Within an hour in New Jersey are cousins and extended family members.  Within an hour in Connecticut are the towns where I lived as a single working woman and then as a working wife and mother.
 
Chosen Places
 
We don’t choose where we live as children, but sometimes we’re lucky, or bold, or a combination of both, and can make conscious choices about where we live as adults.
 
My Sydney Paris life didn’t happen overnight.  It involved a lot of effort and change and decision-making along the way.  It’s still a work in progress and I’m writing about it separately from this blog, to better understand it myself.
 
One of the lessons I’ve learned is that some of the most joyful experiences of my life happened because I took chances with respect to geography and where physically to live, work, and be.
 
Where Are You From?
 
In today’s world of family globalisation, this is an interesting question.  On a business trip in Asia, I’d say, ‘from Australia’ or ‘from Sydney.’  In Australia, I say, ‘from Connecticut.’  When I lived in Connecticut, I said, ‘originally from New Jersey.’  Today I say, ‘I’m from Sydney but I grew up in New Jersey.’
 
It seems the answer is often the most recent place lived, sometimes with ‘I grew up in xxx’ added.  Clive would say, ‘I’m from Sydney but I grew up in England.’
 
The Meaning of Home
 
At its simplest level, ‘home is where the heart is’ makes sense to me.  My heart, from the romantic, life-partner standpoint, is with Clive, and home is wherever we are together.  But our hearts are also with our parents and children and other family and friends in multiple geographic places, and home is  where they are, too.  Clive has a saying, ‘Home is where you make it,’ which also captures our feelings on the subject.
 
Whether inherited or chosen, the physical places of home come with internal, heartfelt emotions and external, 3-D reminders of what home really means.  In my mother’s house are photographs of people I loved most in the world who are no longer with us:  my grandparents, my brother, and my late husband.  There are more recent photographs of people I love most in the world today:  Clive, on our travels and with our families together, my son and stepson, Clive’s children, and all our children’s families.  Being here reminds me of the continuity of life, the importance of people, and that sometimes, you can go home again.
 
Back to Reality – the ‘Little’ Things
 
You might be able to go home again, but you might not have your luggage with you.  We made it to Newark International last evening but Clive’s suitcase did not.   British Airways had a print-out of names of those whose bags didn’t make it and gave us $50. and an overnight kit to compensate for the inconvenience.
 
Your technology also might not work flawlessly when you go home again.  Of course, it doesn’t help if you spill wine on the laptop keyboard the night before departure and have to rush out and buy a USB keyboard, or if you’re sharing a alaptop with an older version of software that makes your blog fonts and spacing go all funny, or if your wireless device acts up and you have to use your mother’s ancient dial-up line.
 
But these are glitches that will likely be sorted out by the IT guru, whose suitcase was delivered today and who now has more clean clothes than just a British Airways T-shirt to wear.
 
Storm on the Way
 
It was over 90 degrees F. when we arrived last evening, and it felt close to that today.  We spent most of the day with my mother, who is doing very well.  Apparently, Tropical Storm Hanna is on the way tonight, which should cool things off.
 
I miss my Sydney and Paris places, but for now, it’s good to be ‘home’ again.  Tomorrow the work on my mother’s house begins in earnest.
 
Cheers and happy homecomings, all.

4 Responses

  1. I can’t believe it!!
    All those problems getting to Paris, but you managed to arrive there with your luggage. Then you get separated from your bags on a more straightforward flight. I’m glad Clives bags turned up…who knows what he may of looked like in your’s or your mothers clothes!!! Glad you are safely “home”. Miss You Both Lots

  2. Thanks for the smile, Mrs Chipndale 🙂

  3. Well written post–these are good points. I wonder if it is so confusing to some people because we were raised with the very simple construct of ‘home’ being that thing that happens on 1950/60s tv shows where all your friends and family are and there’s no travelling across the country to visit grandparents and the only relative who lived outside the town was the errant uncle who went to the big city for a while but now he’s got married and is back home again…

    Im off on a tangent!! But I think this might be part of the answer for me–the paradigms are taking a while to shift, clearly as I am still (20 years later) not settled with the idea of ‘home’ meaning so many different things.

  4. Thanks, Michelle. I wonder if we’ll ever be really settled with the idea of ‘home’ and its multiple meanings. I’m sure it’s something many of us will continue to grapple with for years or maybe forever.

    I agree about the concept being soooo different from those old TV shows!

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