Home. Home is where your heart is. Home is where your story begins. Home is what you make it. Home is wherever you are. Home is… Home is…? Home is a lot of things and it exists in a million places. We spend much of our life just trying to feel at home, trying to find a place to belong and fit in. Sometimes home is something we can only find inside ourselves, which translates to being at home with who you are. Sometimes we find our home in nature, out among the wild forest, ocean waves, and mountain views. Sometimes we find home in another person, someone who makes us feel safe, secure, and loved for who we are. But most often, Home is referred to as a place, a physical place where you belong; or as Harriet Beecher Stowe says, “Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room.” I love that.
Some people feel naturally at home in this world, with themselves, and with others, and they are able to establish a physical space that is their sanctuary – a place for life’s undress rehearsal. Others of us have a more difficult time finding a place to belong, where we feel entirely safe and at peace. For me the word “home” has always felt like a trigger word. Growing up I never felt at home in my own home. It was clear to me that I was just passing through, that my existence there wasn’t permanent. Maybe that is why it took me a long time to feel comfortable calling all the places I’ve lived “home”.
When I moved to Oregon it felt very temporary. Ten years later it still felt temporary. I wasn’t ready to commit to this place despite the reality that I didn’t seem to be leaving any time soon. I’ve now lived in Oregon for over 14 years and I’m finally starting to accept that maybe I like it here. Maybe I haven’t left because it has become my home. If not here, then where? The same goes for all the houses and apartments we’ve lived in over the years. We’ve moved six times in 14 years and I’ve never felt any real permanence with any of them. I now live in a little apartment with my husband and two kids and I feel more at home in this notoriously impermanent residence than I ever have. It’s only taken me 14 years!
I think what lead me to this place of feeling at home in both my small apartment and my new Home-State of Oregon is the realization that if I cannot be happy where I’m at, at this very moment, in this very place, then I’ll never be happy. If I can’t call this place “home” then there isn’t anywhere I can call home. One of the greatest benefits to this new way of thinking about Home has been the relaxation and entire unreserved I feel when I am at home. Once I was able to let go of my ideals about home or my expectation that home should arrive pre-packaged and ready to assemble, I was able to embrace home as a sanctuary and not something to be critical, cynical, or defensive about. Home truly is wherever you are, and we must choose to make the best of where we are at. We must create our home and make it into what we need it to be, and on top of that we must find a special place in our home that is completely ours. A place where we find sanctuary and refuge from the outside world – from all the demands that push and pull on us.
For me, my place of sanctuary is on my back porch between the hours of 6:00-7:30 am. It’s the quietest time of day, when everyone in the house is still sleeping and the air outside is fresh and cool, and the sun is still too sleepy to overwhelm me with its presence. If we lived in a big enough place I would like to have my very own room, but for now a quiet time of day and my favorite couch are where I let down and find my refuge, my backroom, my dressing room away from the stage of life.