Since March 12, we have had a chance to decide if Dorothy is right, if there truly is no place like home. Our enforced staycation has given us all lots of time to think about what ‘home’ means.
It’s a common theme of literature: the hero’s journey takes him out and away only to return home, changed, to a hot supper.
Home. Such a perfect word. The sigh of the initial ‘h,’ the round ‘o,’ the ‘m,’ which can be drawn out ‘mmmmm.’
In the early 2000’s I spoke at a joint Oregon and Washington library gathering. Organizers asked participants to respond to the question: “What is ‘home’ to you?” I remember Lois Lowry said home was her mother singing in the kitchen. And Jacqueline Woodson, who had a new baby, said home was the curve of her daughter’s neck, that little nuzzling place.
Their answers engage the senses – the sound of singing, the touch of a warm baby – because home is a place we know with our senses. The smell of oak duff takes me to my childhood home in the Sierra foothills, as does any starry, starry night.
But no matter where your physical house is, it’s the people there that make it a home. Anyone who has experienced homesickness knows the truth of the old axiom “Home is where the Heart is.” No matter how good a vacation is, it’s always comforting to come home to your own bed.
Have you ever taken a walk through your neighborhood at dusk, when neighbors have their lights on but before they have shut the curtains? In every picture window there’s a vignette of home being experienced: kids playing, a family eating dinner, a mother rocking a baby. Lots of stories going on.
These days we get glimpses into peoples’ homes because of the necessary reworking of live TV shows. For instance, if you watch American Idol, the contestants are broadcasting from their homes. You get to know them a little better: the freeway is off in the distance from one guy’s porch, another has a couch full of kids watching.
You can’t help but imagine their lives as revealed by their homes. It’s an interesting insight, especially for we nosy writer-types.
I’ve become fond of Jimmy Fallon’s home edition, videoed by his wife on an iPhone. He is so charming with his two little girls on his lap, reading the evening’s jokes – and what an interesting house!
John and I realize we are lucky. We have each other – that’s what home is for us – and a roof over our heads and access to just about anything we need – and two little grandboys who are on their way over here right now. Maybe they will build a fort of sofa cushions and blankets. A home in a home.
My heart goes out to those whose housing is uncertain and healthcare and food sources iffy. The inequalities in our land-of-plenty are laid bare by this crisis. As we recover from the corona virus’ impact, I hope we will take the opportunity to reset our communities, and services, and country with compassion and inclusion. Here’s a chance to do things better, to take better care of each other, to offer everyone the welcome of home.
Wishing you all the best during our “safe at home” days — and wondering; When you click your sparkly red heels, what is ‘home’ to you?