When I think of home–I don’t think as much about place–as I do about feel. What does being at home in my mind feel like? For me it boils down to two things, safety and love.
Even though I have had times in my life where I was not at home with myself, or safe, I learned I was resilient. I discovered that I had the foundational blocks beneath me to persevere enough to re-build the parts that had been torn down. In essence to find my way back to feeling at home inside myself again.
Thanks to my family of origin I have a well of memory to draw from when it comes to being safe and loved.
One such memory comes from, what long ago was, our annual trek to a place we called, The Farm.
It was a summer escape from town, an outdoor paradise where we children were free to roam. A big brown farm house perched alongside a stream with fields to run through, a pool to swim in and a barn with a loft to jump from.
Even now, despite the years, I can still picture it in my mind, a canvas so clear it’s as if I can smell it too…
Nestled together in the back of the station wagon, blankets pulled to our necks, zero padding for our backs, we watched as the light cast from the passing headlights created a stage for shadow hand puppets on the ceiling of the car.
Eventually sleep would drag us into her arms leaving our parents to navigate the balance of the drive in the quiet of each others company.
Later, the rumbling spitting ping of rocks and dirt under slow moving rubber tires led us all to push sleeps grasp away. Almost as if in unison, we would hoist our still dreaming heads up to catch a glimpse of the trees. In a blur, one by one into the dark, they disappeared as we passed them by.
And there suspended in the minutes before arrival the car remained hushed, it is as if we all knew that everything sacred is rooted in peace. My toddler self held her breath until the transition from dirt to grass beneath the wheels signaled the journey from Connecticut to Pennsylvania was over, finally the car came to a rest.
Four doors pushed open. Greeted in a rush by the tick of the then stilled motor, the crickets hummed and the aroma of just cut grass filled us. And our dad made his way to the porch, there the familiar creek of the screen, followed by the sticking of the wood on wood from the shoved-open front door — and then light.
As soon as we crossed the threshold our enthusiasm burst from our seams, much like spilled marbles, the restlessness of the journey found us scattering through the enormous farm house, the odor of the centuries old wood walls as intoxicating as the cool summer night air.
Our parents exhausted from the drive, would herd us all up the stairs to the sleeping porch where one by one we took our beds–each focused on swallowing the excitement of having arrived at the farm in exchange for the promise of a song.
In the glow of the single bulb burning behind him in the hall, he filled the door frame. We could just make out his dad-song-gestures, a pantomime of buttoning up his vest and chopping the Douglas Fir, in time with the words to his trademark singing of the Logger song. Like a quilt, our father’s singing voice spread over us and across to the meadow below. Then in a whisper of, night-night, he was gone.
My earliest childhood memories are cocooned there–fighting to remain awake in the midnight dark–lined up next to my siblings in beds on a screened in porch, tucked into the heart of my family, blanketed in love.
What about you, what does home mean or represent for you?