What is home? Everyone has different answers to this, but for me, home is tied to sensations. It’s a physical space that can conjure the feelings of nostalgia, warmth, comfort, and peace.When I think of the places I have truly called home, these feelings were always present.
In my life, I have traveled some but have lived in two states thus far: Pennsylvania and Washington. My parents still live in the house I grew up in in Northeastern Pennsylvania. And while I lived in Philadelphia before moving to Washington, my parents’ house will always be home. I spent 18 years there, creating memories good and bad, throughout my childhood. The furnishings may have changed, but the “home” is still there. I’m only able to visit my parents once a year right now, and it’s hard to describe the feeling I get just driving up the street to their house and walking through the door. The flood of memories and sensations is overwhelming. There, I connect to a part of me that I don’t connect with any place else. I am filled with nostalgia, warmth, comfort, and peace from a very specific time of my life.
Once I moved to Washington, letting go of that home was difficult. I hadn’t even visited the area before deciding to move. My fella got a job, so I just packed my stuff, got on a plane, and wished for the best. Everything and everyone was new. It was exhilarating but completely disorienting at the same time. There was absolutely no nostalgia anywhere; nothing on which to throw my memory anchor. It was a blank slate, as I was with it. While I really liked the area, for many years I just couldn’t figure out if it was real….if we would really live here.
It was as if this was the pre-amble to our adult life, but could it be the home of our adult life? And once we started a family, could my kids grow up so disconnected to the home I knew and loved as a child? Could I create a true home for them when I felt so disoriented myself? I grappled with this for years.
The first house my husband and I owned was a good house that we filled with wonderful memories. We got married when we lived in that house. It was the first house both of our sons knew. But that house never was exactly our home. Partly from the aesthetic and partly from the surrounding neighbors, we just never felt fully at peace there. The funny thing is that layout of the house very much mirrored my parent’s house. Yet something was always off about its fit as our home.
Then two years ago, we moved to a place that felt tailor-made for us. It was a big step. We only wanted to move if it truly was the right place for us, had all the things we wanted, and was a place that our sons could grow up in until they became adults. We wanted this to be the home of their childhoods.
Not only has this new place been a wonderful home for my kids thus far, but for the first time in my adult life, I feel like I am at home…my home. The layout of the house, the natural spaces surrounding it, the privacy, the room to breathe…it’s all here. Even the furniture from our old house fits better here, as if to say the universe knew we would get here eventually and guided my hand when I was picking out couches. The property is more work to upkeep, but I no longer dream of living anywhere else. I know longer doubt if this is real. I know longer feel unsettled about living 3000 miles from the house I grew up in. In this place, I feel nostalgia, warmth, comfort, and peace, and we haven’t even been here that long.
I love to visit new places, and I long to see more of the world someday. I also believe that if I had to, I could carve out a new home elsewhere. But there is something for me about the familiarity of my home, a place to always come back to. I want to spend years here. At the end of any journey, I want to come home.
What does home mean to you? For those who have built a home abroad, tell us your ideas on creating a home in a new place.
This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara B. of Washington (State) USA.
Photo credit to the author.