I’ve been thinking about home for awhile. I just checked the dictionary definition – home: a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family or household – a place where one lives…hmmm…
As a kid, I lived in the same community for 21 years. I did live in three homes, but always in the same town. This community of La Crescenta was home to me. So much so that when I was 14 and my parents told me they wanted to move one town away, I threw huge teenage girl tantrums until they gave up on that idea.
Then came college and I reluctantly left my home and moved to Chico in northern California. I say reluctantly because though I desperately wanted out of LA, I’d never lived anywhere else and Chico was a long way from home. My family went to great efforts to help me create a space in which I’d feel at home, but oh boy…was I homesick that first semester.
Like many of us who left our homes for college or other adventures, the first year was rough. I missed home – I missed my friends, my family and my community. I did not miss the “structure” that was my home. In fact, my parents waited until I left and then they made that move so when I came back, I had a new bedroom in a new condo in that “one town away” location. That’s when I really understood that home had very little to do with housing; it had everything to do with the people and the comfort of being safe, warm and loved – the place where we feel most comfortable.
I recently read one person’s definition of home and it sent me down a different path – home means a future. During my career, I worked with families who were in search of the home that would mean they had a future – a safe, secure future where they would be accepted and included and live the “American dream”. I’m reading a book – Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival, and Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott. The author is a journalist who followed a family who frequently moved between public housing projects in NYC. She specifically followed Dasani, the eldest daughter. This book gives me a whole new appreciation of the impact of being “unhoused, homeless” or without a home and the effort that people in this situation go to to create a home.
I digress…this brings me back to 1980 when I moved to Chico as a junior in college. My first home was a studio apartment. I lived by myself and truth be told, I was lonely. I quickly found my people though and created my own sense of home which was really my community, not a structure where I lived. My second year, Therese, a friend from LA, (with whom I had breakfast yesterday!) moved to Chico to go to school and we created our home together for two years. In these 3 short years (followed by another two years after my stint in Salinas which never felt like home), I knew that Chico would always be a home for me.
I’m rambling…Short story long…Glen and I met in Chico where I had moved for a dream job in my dream community and I never intended to leave. But…love called and I followed him to Orange County (first Irvine then San Clemente) where we created a home near the beach, got married, had Niels and…ended up leaving because…well…that’s another blog post.
And the “end” of the story? We ended up in Walnut Creek for 30+ years where we have a wonderful home – by all definitions. And yet…
Here I am today…sitting at a rooftop café in Chico enjoying an afternoon coffee. I am looking down Broadway toward the University.
I can see the “new” city plaza with its fountain, bandstand, benches and quite a few people who likely call the plaza their home.
I can see “our” hotel, The Diamond, where we are at home when we come to Chico.
I’m thinking about all of our travel and the places where we really feel we could create a home. (Some of you may know that we actually went brownstone shopping in Brooklyn a couple years ago.)
Which brings me back to Chico. A place where I feel at home.
A place where I take a deep breath and say….ahhhhh. I’m home.
Okay. Truth be told…I’m at one of my homes!
Where are your homes?