So where is home? For some people this is an easy question with an immediate answer. To those of us with more nomadic lifestyles, however, is the single question that can bring a conversation to a standstill. Just yesterday I was asked this question again and as usual, I took pause. My reply ended up being "its complicated." Most of the others in the room immediately understood what was meant by my comment as I went on to explain the reasoning behind my response.
Is home the address where I grew up yet haven't live at for over two decades? Although I don't return there often, when I do, my mother's house immediately brings me back to my adolesence and some of the comforting memories of my teenage years. Is it the city where I rented my first apartment all on my own? I lived at too many addresses to count within a ten mile radius before finally settling into the small apartment I still think of as being mine. (Yes, it was small and quirky but it had a great location and most importantly, it was all mine). During a recent visit back to the United States I drove by my apartment and was a bit saddened to see someone else's light illuminating the big bay window in the living room. Is it the Norfolk house where Glenn first introduced me to the fine art of home renovations? A lot of blood, sweat, tears, and laughter were experienced under that roof. It was the first house we lived in as a married couple and then when baby made three, it became a true family house. With it finally renovated to our satisfaction (including a large, perfectly designed walk-in closet that never held any of my clothes), we spent a year as landlords from afar before selling it. Over two years later I still think of that house as our house and that neighborhood as our neighborhood. Our subsequent neighorhoods and neighbors just have not been the same and I doubt they ever will be. Is it the townhouse on Bolling Air Force Base where we lived for a very long fourteen months? Ever the Army brat, Glenn had fond memories of growing up in military housing and assured me I would enjoy our time there. Despite our waterfront views and our proximity to the best things Washington DC has to offer, I never came to like this home. Maybe it was the too close confines with its galley kitchen, the location of our "well guarded gated community", or the fact that I knew this was truly a temporary home. Most likely, it was a combination of all of these factors. This was the first home I was elated to move from. Is home Tirana, Albania? Over the past year this chaotic foreign un-European Balkan city has grown on me. The crazy traffic, polluted air, and neighborhood cows have become a part of my daily life. Our concrete monstrocity of a house filled with borrowed furniture and lush garden hidden behind the high wall (a concrete one of course) is the place I return to each evening. Like all of my other homes, this one is also temporary but at the moment, it is mine.
Yes, for me, home is all of these places. It is the small Maine community I grew up in, the Massachusetts city I lived in during both college and my early adult years, and the Virigina city I first lived in with Glenn. With each consecutive move I've realized that home is where I am at the moment. The state, zip code, or even country may change but the tangables remain the same. Whether it be a rented apartment, our own suburban house, or yes, even that dreaded townhome on a military base, at the time it was our home. With each new house once I unpack our family pictures and put our books on the shelves we are home. Regardless of the walls that surround us we quickly settle back into our familiar and comfortable routines. That is until our next move beckons us. The one constant through all of this, my little family, remains the same. So as long as they are there with me, that will be the place I call home.