After returning from my most recent trip to the west coast, I was confronted with the concept of “home;” confronted with what it had meant to me, and if the definition and manifestation that I had held for most of my life was still relevant.
For many of my friends in New York City and around the country, the idea of home was a place, a brick-and-mortar construct filled with material objects that they had purchased or received; a physical place to which they had returned after hard work days and long trips. For many, home was and has been the place in which they grew up, and now the place in which they aspire to or already watch their own children grow.
For me, home has not been a place, so much as it has been an emotional space, a memory, a feeling, a touch, a smell, a taste. Home: An essence of the soul shared between people, inspired by places, things, and conveyed via my senses. I have had places, spaces, apartments where I have lived while in college, and after, but I venture to say that the last real external “home” was my childhood home in which my sister and I grew from infant-hood, under the living, watchful eye of my parents while they were still married. We were a nuclear family of four, that made a house a home.
After my sister was killed, my sense of home was altered significantly. Perhaps, it was because she was home to me in so many ways, and when she was gone, so went my physical, typical sense of “home.” Perhaps, it was because the energy inside our childhood home had changed so dramatically with the loss of one of its members, that the familiar magic had escaped, and while a new and different magic began to form, the old home had shape-shifted back into a house—haunted with memories. Perhaps, with that shift, the feeling of safety, an inimitable feeling of security, of unconditional love, of family, took up residence in my heart rather than our street address, and it stayed there, henceforth.
I have never thought it wrong that home for me comes from my mother’s hand across my feverish forehead, the smell of my father’s old spice, the caress of a lover’s strong hand on my check, my chin, a kindred spirit, a shared heart space, a language, or a song. I have never thought it wrong for my sense of home to be transient, to be portable, to be inside of me, as opposed to outside of me.
However, I have always very much appreciated walking into a space and feeling the warm, familial energy of a true home. I have had so many beautiful friends who’s living space was absolutely more than a mere dwelling, and they preferred to be there instead of away. There was an energy as well as an appreciation, an enjoyment of their material belongings, furniture, fixtures. Many of them still take pleasure in spending time building, renovating, landscaping, investing in the physical construction of their home, and for most of them, it has reciprocated with a feeling of genuine warmth and belonging.
So, perhaps it is time for me to shift slightly, to combine what has been my experience with that of those I love and admire. Perhaps it is time for me open myself up to letting some roots grow where I feel best. Perhaps it’s time for me to open my heart and allow a loving relationship to inform where I live. Perhaps it’s time for me to start building a family, keeping a place and discovering a new definition of “home.” For, we don’t have to have a house to have a home, but we do have to make space in our heart. And if we can create a place in our heart to appreciate all that we do have physically, materialistically, emotionally, and soulfully, then anything we build in that space will be imbued with the truest sense of home.
And that is some mind/body/spiritual house-hunting I cannot wait to do...
Polo REO Tate was born in Lansing, Michigan, where her family has deep ties to the community. Her Great Great Grandfather was Ransom Eli Olds (R.E. Olds), a pioneer and prolific inventor most notably responsible for inventing the first internal combustion automobile—the Oldsmobile. Growing up, [...]