Monday, May 25, 2015

The Bag Lady thinks about home

I attended a women's group meeting one evening this week. We meet the third Thursday of every month for an hour and a half. Each time there's a topic selected by the moderators. This month we talked about home.

When I was growing up in a military family, we moved every three years or so. So I lived in California, Illinois, Virginia, North Carolina and Hawaii. That was in the first 20 years. Then, during my first marriage I lived in California, Georgia, Texas and Oregon. I count 47 residences in my lifetime, and I moved into my current house 20 years ago, when I was 47.

I talk about houses, though, not homes. I can remember the interior rooms of most of the houses I've lived in, and most of the exterior views. But I can't conjure up feelings for any of the places I lived in my early childhood.

The house I live in now is a home. Really, a home. When my husband Art and I moved here we had eight children ranging in age from eight to 23. Three of them lived with us and the rest with their other parents, but we had frequent visitation. This place was big enough for everyone to gather.

We went through a long string of teenagers here, being our pointless parenting selves for over ten years, but establishing bonds in our blended family that still exist. When our kids were all grown and gone, Art and I lived quietly in our big house for 15 more years.

Then last year, my sister Alyx and her husband Virgil moved from Alaska and now reside in their motorhome on our property. Originally intended to be a one- to three-month stay, it's now for an indefinite time. The four of us find our little community to be a positive combination of people with varying skills and aptitudes, and most of the time we all get along. (It helps that Alyx works nights and Virgil works days and Art and I don't work at all!) And last month Art's son Peter asked to rent a room while he attends nursing school. Now we are a community of five. It's not anything I would ever have expected - to have a full house after so many years - but I like it.

In my women's circle, home is also about community outside our houses. Here in Washington we are part of a web of caring. In Tucson, where we live in the winter, our very small home is just the right size for our friendly community of North Americans escaping dreary weather elsewhere. We feel home the minute we drive through the gate.

I have friends who grew up in one house with a close-knit family or a not very happy one. And friends who grew up like me, moving around every few years. In July I'll be attending a reunion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where I attended high school. Nearly everyone there will be like me. There's a kind of home that may happen at the reunion, as we return to our common ground after 50 years away.

From my perspective as a child I could never have imagined what home would look like now.

11 comments:

DJan said...

Where my parents lived always felt like home, even long after I'd left. Now that they are gone, my home is now wherever I happen to be, but now that I think of it, it's really just a place, not a home like you describe. You're so lucky to have such a home and community around you, Linda. :-)

Arkansas Patti said...

Now with all your company, you certainly don't have the empty nest syndrome.
We moved a lot also and for me it always became "home" when an ugly set of elk horns that supported a dinner gong was set out. That was the only heirloom I requested and it rests behind my chair right now.

Olga Hebert said...

My 8 year old grandson was just asking me what does that mean...home is where the heart is? He has not developed much in the way of sentimental feelings yet, I guess because he just shook his head at my explanation.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Interesting subject! Like DJan, I equated home with my parents for a long time. In my case I think I felt untethered because I was single for a long time. But in my late 30s I realized I needed and wanted to make my own home. I rented a place more to my liking and furnished it with things that made me comfortable and happy, and later bought a place I really loved. Just got settled when I met and married Peter, and home took on a whole new dimension.

Terra said...

I like how your current living situation evolved and is a good match for the 5 of you. We have lived in our home for 30 years and are not thinking of moving. Our sons live nearby, a big plus.

Jean Fleming-Kehler said...

For the first ten years of my life, I was only with both parents off and on. More so with my dad. When I was 12 he died in a car crash. I then had to live with a mother whom I didn't know and she was sick also. Home to me is where I started out. Even though it was hard it was home. My siblings and I always call it "Out home". I married, moved far away tried to make our home a home. The kids feel we succeeded so that is good. My husband passed away four years ago and now I am trying to make a new home. The circle of life goes on. Love how yours has evolved.

Joanna Richey said...

Linda, I really like your description of your various homes and the difference between a home and a house. Great transitions too although I suspect that those transitions were not as simple as the short piece describes! For me I try to make home where I am and the transitions between all the places seamless...not there yet but we'll see! XX

Eileen Hopkins said...

I lived in the same home all my growing up years - good, bad and ugly! I had a friend who moved so often that she never connected closely with any school friends - for her a reunion would be a big bust. The reverse happened when we married. I moved several times through 3 provinces; she married a farmer and never moved until they retired. I dislike moving: the effort, planning, discomfort of pulling up roots BUT I find the adventure, excitement and anticipation of re-decorating in a new space feeds my inner explorer. Home is people to me. I do go "home" to the little community I grew up in and I am filled with memories of my parents, my school friends and all the fun and fights we survived. I never connected like that again until I moved to a rural community that embraced me and my family as their neighbours in every sense. Leaving there was harder than moving from my family home. Now, I am settled into retirement, recovering from a move across provinces again, and still struggling to set down roots in a small town community getting back to my rural roots, it seems. The house is home; the community will take time, but time is one thing I do have! I think this place will be more like a home base to launch from - we will see!

Retired English Teacher said...

It is interesting to me that the topic of home stirs up so many different definitions for many. I led a rather stable life as a child in that we only moved twice, and those two times where when I was in high school. I haven't moved that many times as an adult either. Establishing a home is important to me. At times, I feel I still have not made this place my home. I'm not sure why. I'm still exploring that idea.

I admire you having extra people in the homestead. That would be very difficult for me.

Deb Shucka said...

What a lovely reflection. I think as we get older, home has much more to do with who we love and not where we are. I know I've said this before, but the quality of your voice has changed in the last year. I can hardly wait to see you to talk about that. :-)

Mona McGinnis said...

Here's a prayer I offer to the universe: Thanks for the home in my heart, my home in the hills and the people who lead me back there.