For some people, defining "home" is easy. They've lived in the same town, region, or state their whole lives. Their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, for the most part, live there too. And there's some sort of invisible, intangible cord that ties them to this place.
In my life, defining "home" isn't nearly as neat and orderly. Tonight, I am away, thinking about home, and wondering how to figure out just where home is for me.
Truth is, Doylestown will always be home in some sense of the word. It's the place with the most big growing up memories. It's the place that I went to school, returned empty pop bottles for pennies, and played Barbies with my sister. It's the place where I went to church every Sunday, ate Gom cookies, and marched in the Homecoming parade. My first kiss, my first date, my first high-heeled shoes. And then, somewhere around the time when I turned 17, I realized it was just the first stop on the journey. That's when I figured out the first rule about home. It isn't the place, it's the family. It's Mom and Dad and my sisters that make it home. As long as they are there, it will be one place I call home.
Houston was home for awhile. While so many people think it must be a horrible place to call home, it worked for me. It's the place I first met myself.
"Pleased to meet you."
I built a life for myself and my family there. I learned what it was I liked in Houston. Chinese food, yes. Sushi, no. I learned how to do things by myself, write good stories, and how to pick good coffee. I learned that age is a state of mind, and that being a mother has nothing to do with pregnancy. I found a voice, then used it to say, "this place no longer feels like home."
One day, a few years later, I found myself living in a rent house in Sioux Falls. The carpet was ugly, the weather hard to get accustomed to, and the pace of life slow and simple. I found my soul mate and a reason to stay. Soon it was home. Not like Doylestown home, and not like Houston home, but a whole new home, and a whole new life.
Now here I am in a hotel room in California missing home. Most of all I miss Steve and Scout, though I would be lying if I didn't mention that the extra free time is doing me good. I can't say as I miss South Dakota right now. But I miss my boys. I miss their smiles, Scout's sweet voice, and Steve's touch. I don't miss the lists of things to do, or the weather, or the drive to Iowa every morning. But I miss home.
Here's the thing. I'm still not sure that I've made my last move, or where we'll end up. But this I know: (I learned it from my mom and dad at home.) Home is about family. No matter where I go, I have a place in the world. Any city will do, as long as my family is there. Geography is about place. Home is about family.
Scout caught his first fish today, and I wasn't home to see it. That's a shame. But there will be more fishing at home over the next few years, and I'll be home to enjoy it.