I always have these dreams about home where my house morphs, I find new rooms, things are falling apart or it’s been magically transported to somewhere new. This blog is in large part about an exploration of what home means. As I have contemplated moving over the last year or so, the idea of what home means to me has been thick on my mind. In my younger years, I might have left without a thought, longing for somewhere to feel comfortable, only to find when I got there that things were the same.
What is home? There are things that feel like home from the start and things that grow into home over time. Ballet was home for me, sailing was home for me, books and writing were home for me from the very moment of introduction. But ‘home’ is more than that. It is a feeling of comfort within one’s self that we carry with us like our genetic code and it creates us according to our environment. Home is both external and internal, tangible and intangible, a mix of comfort and adventure, it is in the people we love, in our friends, it is something you make and something you find, it is a belief. It is the first thing they tell you in the required parenting class when you get a divorce – make sure your children feel like they still have a home. And they emphasize this particularly for children from ages 4 to 10, a time when it means a great deal to our developing sense of self. A collegue of mine longs for a real home of her own. I hear it from her every week or so. Her father worked for the UN and they lived in various places when she was young. Now she is married to a military man. Her daughter is 13 and this has been her life as well. Home is what she dreams of too.
I’ve been thinking it is time to go visit Europe again. I went when I was 19 and I never really recovered. It felt like a place I belonged and when I returned I was a little lost. I felt like a stranger in my own country and I have ever since. I said this out loud to my friends over a drink the first day I met JJ. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the slightly startled look on his face, a moment of connection and recognition. I think he knew what I meant.
“I have been looking for you,” he whispered to me in the dark that night. I think I knew what he meant – ‘I have found someone who feels like home.’ I wonder, what does home mean to a boy who was sent away at 8 years old, only allowed to visit home on vacations and weekends? I heard the hesitation in his voice about the distance between our houses and I felt like he need to be in his own place. I began to visit him on vacations and weekends. I thought that I could be me anywhere, I thought that home was within me.
But, slowly, I began to feel stripped. There was no clean tub waiting for me on Friday nights, no radio, my life was in a suite case and if I forgot my comfy sweats, too bad. No books on the shelves, no key to come and go, the shampoo was not the same and the sedate odor of dog and pot smoke began to hang on me. I didn’t even smell like myself. Everything I did there was a different rhythm. I was a guest. I could not claim anything I loved there as my own. Even the simplest of things that made me feel like me was a production. Cooking required an elaborate trip to the store because it was not my kitchen. I didn’t know all the in’s and outs of the local places and there were very few friends close by to visit. Except for conversation and the occasional book, I had nothing that I thought of as me to share with JJ. I think his sense of home in me began to wither away.
Then I would go back to my house during the week. A house that used to be full of students, busy with life. Now it is full of the ghosts and memories and names carved into the floor by little fingers. Sometimes when I walk up the stairs to the room that used to be my studio I think I can hear an echo of laughter, the tinkling of a piano and my feet fall on each step in time with the repeating rhythm of Tchaikovsky. But when I open the door it is empty and quite except for the rush of the cars outside.
It is no longer mine. It is time to make a new home for myself.
The night I met JJ I had a dream. I dreamed that I went with him to India, to his house. We drove there in an old American car and in the strange place of dreams it was decorated like gypsy caravan. We went outside and the whole world was awash with the most vivid colors, the purple sky, the red ground. We stood together at the edge of the bluest lake I had ever seen and I heard my voice echoing over the water and out into the universe, “I’m home. I’m home. I’m home.”
Homemade Chocolate Banana Bread
- 2 over-ripe banana’s
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. cardamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup rum
- 1 small package chopped walnuts
Mash your banana’s, combine your dry ingredients first, add in every thing else and mix well. Pour the batter into 2 greased loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.