They say that the older you get, the more you realize that home is less a physical location, and more the people that matter.
A part of me believes this. Over the past ten months, home has become where James is. It helps that our apartment is teeny, and can only be decorated so much. Its sensation of hominess stems from the fact that it is where we are making our first home. It comes from the evenings spent laughing on the couch and sharing dinner with friends. It comes from coming home to someone you love and knowing that this place is ours to share. It comes from being with James. When he is there, it is home, and when he isn’t, it is a neat little space that holds our stuff and has really good wifi.
But another part of me thinks that the emphasis on home being a personal connection rather than a physical place misses something, and when I come back to Kentucky I am reminded of that. The big brick house on the hill in Wilmore, surrounded by trees and horse fields is home because my family built it and lives there, of course, but I don’t think that is all. This place is home, in and of itself. Even when my parents move away someday, after they are fed up with the horses, or the trees that keep on dying, or the grass that won’t stay trimmed, this place will carry within itself a certain quality of home for me. This place matters, and this place is home, not just a place where home happened. This grass that feels so good beneath my feet, the way that the sunlight filters through the walnut trees, the cocktail of aromas that define the air in spring, a mixture of honeysuckle, grass clippings, and hay – these things are home. The way the house creaks in just a certain way, the wall where we have marked out our heights since birth (transferred when we made the one move in my childhood, a whole two miles), or the swing that sways lazily back and forth on the porch – these things are home. The woods, the barn, the horses, the house, and the creek – all of these physical trappings have spent years assuming qualities and memories that forbid any divorce between themselves and that illusive metaphysical quality of home.
Which makes me wonder, when will another spot feel like home in this way? When will another physical spot contain enough in itself to supplant the fixed element of homeness that this little farm in Kentucky has? Or is our definition of home continually expanding to make room for not just the people who define it, but the places that become it?
Do you have one place that stands out as home for you, no matter where you are living now or how long you have been away?