I’ve had a most interesting exchange with a writing mate. I asked her about home. She asked me back. Home has been on my mind recently, so I’d been thinking about it but I hadn’t put anything into words. You know: words. Those bothersome markers that make a thought visible, graspable, kickable. But they are also the stepping stones. When I lay down the words, I lay a path.
And so it was this morning that I wrote my thoughts on home and began to put down the path.
I grew up in a home. It was authoritarian, cramped, explosive, stable. Sometimes hilarious. My parents had deep roots in the area and those attached to me. So I knew home then.
But not so much in my adulthood. Those things that were the nature and aspect of home for me — marriage, faith, family, house — dissolved, and so I was required to re-define home. Or to admit I would never have it again.
Do externals define home? Yes. The smell inside the old breakfront, the lopsided Christmas tree, the wooded Indiana backways, stories that begin “When I was growing up” — the seeing, hearing, touching, smelling of geographical, architectural, hand-me-down place.
But what about the internal place, where the senses work only in memory? Isn’t that my essential home, and if I don’t know home there, will I know it any place else? And if I do know home there, or, rather, here, inside me, do I need it any place else?
I am 72. These questions have might for me. The path I write will not be straight, cannot be long.