When did you move away from your childhood home?
Maybe out of state for college or for your first big job? I bet you said the phrase “I’m going back home to visit my family for the holidays” or something similar at least once or twice, right? For me, “home” has always been where I settled in that moment. I’ve never had a true hometown, or a place that I felt was my home until I made my own as an adult. That’s mostly from being an Army Brat my whole life, but also because I’ve always been a natural wanderer like everyone else in my family. The Anderson’s are adventurers at heart, truly. My dad and his three brothers all scattered to the wind as soon as they turned 18. Even my grandparents picked up their lives in Louisiana and traveled the world before settling in Bahrain as ex-patriots for a dozen years before moving back to Louisiana. I feel like I’ve settled down in Florida for the most part, but a big part of my soul is always itching to pick up and go. I am from Louisiana, but even that sense of “hometown” is very loosely based for me. I spent every summer with my grandparents, in Bahrain and in Louisiana for most of my childhood. My roots and history are there, and a big part of my self-identity is based in my Louisiana heritage. But it’s not home for me. Hell, I haven’t been back there in 9 years now that I think of it! I have memories of everyplace I’ve ever been and lived, but I’ll never know how it feels to have a lifetime of memories in a house, town, state, or even with lifetime friends. I’ve never grown up with people, never spent every summer at a best friend’s house, never have had childhood friends. Part of me always wanted those things, and I certainly felt “less than” at times because of it.
So I became fixated on associations of home as I got older. This became more obvious to me when my parents recently moved down to Florida to be near me and my children. They moved their belongings down with them, and I started realizing that my concept of “home” was more tied to the people and the things that fill it, rather than location and memories. When I walked into my parents new house, I was struck by two things: “This is different!!” and, “but somehow the same”. To me, there are things that make my parents house their home, no matter where they are.
1. Cast iron pan or pots on the stove top at ALL TIMES. My dad doesn’t like to hunt for those heavy pans and he would eat his spatula before he let one rust. Or worse-get washed and scrubbed with dawn dish soap like I accidentally did in my teens. Man, he was pissed.
2. There is always a pot of coffee either brewed, brewing, or about to be brewed. I bought them a Keurig years ago, and they still use their coffee pot right next to it. And chances are, it’s “Community” brand coffee!
3. Stacks of books on the bookshelf, nightstands, coffee tables, you name it. We always had books everywhere growing up, and it’s something I do as well.
4. The tv is always on, and it’s always on MUTE. My parents are notorious for muting the tv to talk during commercials and forgetting to turn it back on. Sitting around and talking is a favorite pastime of mine when it comes to my family. We would talk all night at the dinner table, about random things. I remember one conversation we had about the composition of tree bark! We would always go off on random tangents (everyone in my family has wandering brains and conversation points) and never remember how we ended up on such obscure topics!
5. Knit quilts and my mom’s “woobie”, a camo-print, super soft quilt that was army issued to my dad about 20 years ago. She claimed it and never travels (or sits on the couch) without it! There are also quilts that my great-grandmother knitted before I was born strewn about on chairs and couches. Always.
My children have had a relatively stable life thus far. We moved into our house three years ago, and they’re still living in the same city and state they were born in. They have friends and constants in their lives, and I’m pretty sure that one of that will change, regardless of the fact that I could move anywhere and make a home that I’m happy with. But it makes me wonder what sorts of things they’ll associate home with. I’m a lover of things, and it feels like there are so many negative connotations to admitting to that. “She’s so materialistic” or “she’s so wasteful with her spending”…that sort of thing. But for me, things represent the present mentality, the memories of the past, and the sense of home. Things I associate with my own sense of home:
1. Plants, in just about every room or corner of my yard. I’m not the greenest of thumbs, but I know enough to get by with a decent garden! I love houseplants, and I’m never afraid to try a new one in our home.
2. Books everywhere, in almost every room. There are no “things” that I love more than books. I gave it a go with a kindle once upon a time, and I just couldn’t get into it. There is just something about the look, feel, and smell of a book.
3. Pretty little candles, they’re everywhere.
4. Essential Oils. I got into these big time last year, and they’ve taken over my house and life!! I love them so much, and we have diffusers in every single room.
5. Art, where it’s handmade, bought, thrifted, or re-purposed. I can’t stand a blank wall! I once tried the minimalist approach and I wanted to jump out of my skin. I cannot take the blank slate of a naked wall, I have an inner need to decorate at all costs.
While this thought process may sound materialistic and self-appreciating, it’s what makes me, ME. I take pride in making my house a home, because I learned to take comfort in my things after moving around so much. They were the only constants in my life, and if looking at a bookshelf reminds me that I’m home, then that’s what does it for me. What does “home” mean to you? I’m so curious about other people’s experiences with this, whether you’ve lived in one place your entire life or you’ve traveled around like I have. I would love to hear about your sense of home.