There is something so sweet about being home, isn’t there?
Unfortunately, the concept of home changes radically whenever you have to leave the physical structure of the house you’ve called home. Home can be two different places at once–like when I was in college and considered myself to be “going home” whenever I traveled to Platteville to visit my family and then also felt as if I were “going home” when I turned around again to head back to the dorms at UWEC. When we moved to Denver, it became even more complex as we added a third city (and all of our favorite people there!) to our growing list of places we called home.
Add to this the idea that an entire group of people (namely, your family) can move to an entirely new building and begin calling that place home. Or the people you came to love in a city you called home can all move away to other cities, making the city itself feel less like home. Or you can move to a new city you’d never even heard of before and in the time it takes you to unpack a few boxes begin calling that place home. Home becomes a very foggy concept.
I was asked to write about home in a writing class I took a few summers back. I was pregnant and feeling ready to nest, and I was emotional because I had just driven the long day’s drive back to Colorado from Wisconsin so the idea of home felt impossible to conceptualize. I wrote that home felt like a tension between two places, a rubber band stretched to its full capacity that simultaneously pulled me towards my parents and siblings in Wisconsin AND towards my wonderful friends in Colorado.
Whenever I run, I feel this rubber band stretching. How far can I get from home and still have the energy to run back to where I came from? I imagine this band pulling me back towards home when I get lost on my runs (one of my most favorite and probably most foolish hobbies!) or when I feel like I’ve exhausted myself and don’t have the physical strength to make it home on my own two legs. I let the tension pull me back towards home.
Home, for me, has stretched to accommodate two family houses, a dorm room, three apartments, and now a half-house in the suburbs. Home fills in the spaces between these places, winding along familiar roads traveled often and the friendly skies where I’ve flown above.
I have long loved the words of John Donne in his poem “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” which he writes to his lover before he must leave her for a short time. He comforts her by telling her that their two souls are one, and therefore they will not suffer “a breach, but an expansion/like gold to airy thinness beat.” I love the image of gold, capable of being pounded from a solid chunk into a thin gold leafing, stretching to span the physical distance between people who love one another. Wherever I go, I do not separate from the old places so much as I stretch the concept of home a little thinner, a little tighter to encompass a new place I will call home.