This started out as a post about a car trip I took last week and ended up as an exhaustive, philosophical rant about life. Some days (and some posts) are just like that!
What is home? Is it a structure? Is it a place on the map? Is it a person or people? Is it a feeling? All good questions with no right answer. For every person, the answer will be different and for some there will be more than one answer.
So why am I pondering this? Because I’ve physically been in many different places in the last week and a lot of them felt like home!
On Friday, I traveled from central PA to Bethlehem with my mom (Connie, a.k.a. Mimi) to visit my Aunt Pam. I was born in Bethlehem and lived there until I went to college. Even after college when I no longer lived in Bethlehem and people would ask me, “Where is home?” my answer would be “Bethlehem, PA.” But then I put down roots in central PA, met Jeff, got married and built a life. So now when people ask about home, my answer is different.
Spending time in Bethlehem on Friday and Saturday, although fun, was different from the way it used to be. Rather than being an inhabitant, I was a visitor. As much as some things have stayed the same, many things are new or changed. It’s true, time does march on; which makes me realize that, for me, home is not a place. Spending time with my mom and my aunt (and even a little time with my cousin, Mic (insert smile here)) made me realize that, for me, home is where “my people” are – the people with whom I share history. And wherever we meet, we will be home.
Then, after spending time in Bethlehem, I returned to my house and my immediate family (Jeff and our fuzzy girls, Macy & Kissy) and I could COMPLETELY relax. You know what I mean – even though you can be yourself with your parents or your extended family in ways that you can’t with acquaintances because they’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly; when you’re with your spouse/immediate family in your own space, you can let it all hang out! Or at least I hope you can!
Jeff and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary soon and very soon will hit the point where we’ve been married longer than we were single. I never thought I would be in this position – I have trouble committing to a bedspread for more than one year, so I am astonished to be in a relationship for this long. And yet, I wouldn’t trade the years for anything – the ups and downs (and there have been plenty of both) have all been life-altering and have made our relationship HOME – a safe place to land.
And today, spending time with my dear friend (she’s actually more like a sister) Tracey, made me realize that family (“my people”) does not just include blood relatives or my spouse. There are some people who are not biologically related to you that God gifts to you that feed your soul….that lift you up….that can be honest with you, yet not make you feel bad…..that know your story and see the best and worst in you and love you anyway….that don’t need to be with you frequently to continue to care about you and think about you and pray for you….that offer you immeasurable grace and love – even when you do or say stupid things. I am blessed to have several of these people in my life – the people who when you DO spend time with them, you know you’re home. And I hope for others I AM one of those people.
And the Kitchen Shoppe, where I am currently working, feels like home too. It’s a place where I can work hard with people who share a similar passion – cooking/food. But it’s more than that. It’s a different kind of workplace than I’ve ever experienced. The majority of the people who work there have been there for a long time, which really speaks volumes in our McEmployment society where people change jobs like they change their underwear. The people who work at the Kitchen Shoppe genuinely like what they do and who they do it with. Don’t misunderstand me – it’s not Nirvana. There are challenges and personalities and bad days just like any other workplace; but the people who work there put their hearts into their work and invest in and care for one another.
And during my conversation with Tracey today (and after seeing pics on Facebook of a trip some friends took recently), I was reminded that places can feel like home too. In the last few days I commented in Facebook on a photo of the Cliff Walk in Newport, RI. My comment was, “The Cliff Walk is my happy place.” And it is….for some reason, when I am there, I feel like I am home. I was not born there. I never lived there. And I only get to visit once a year for a few days. But when I am standing on the Cliff Walk overlooking the ocean and I feel the salty breeze on my face, I AM HOME. I can breathe better and think better and feel freer there than almost any other place I’ve ever been. I don’t know why. But it doesn’t matter why. I simply enjoy it when I am there!
So, in the last hour I’ve set about finding a definition of “home” that seems correct to me. The closest I’ve come up with is, “Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” – Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye
The following are some pics of my travels during the last week and of some of the things that remind me of “home.”