Where is home?
For some of us, for we who’ve moved about all our lives, this isn’t the easiest question to answer. For others, you don’t even have to think on it too long. Home is where you grew up, it’s where your parents raised you.
Maybe it’s a family home. Perhaps it’s a place, that place you first remember, the one that burned itself into your memory; a familiar sidewalk, a now tall, proudly standing tree. Whatever it is for you, it’s simply home. And you know it when you’re there. You feel it all around you.
But home may be much more than a physical place. Perhaps it’s a place not known. Or, perhaps it’s a place long forgotten.
“At the end of the day, it isn’t where I came from. Maybe home is somewhere I’m going and never have been before.”
― Warsan Shire
My earliest memories are of a sidewalk. And oddly enough, of what I thought to be a jump rope which ultimately turned out to be a coral snake when I tried to pick it up. I was four.
But the sidewalk was where I was allowed to play. It was my street. And on this street I made my rounds, all eyes watched as the pygmy toddler ran up and down the path, caring to stop just before the last house on the block, because beyond this point I was forbidden.
I had two friends on my street. A young hispanic girl named Consuela, and an elderly retired gentleman who’s name escapes me.
Consuela wasn’t allowed out of her house, but her mother allowed her to play with me at her window sill, a window without a screen. And it was there where we played with our toys. Her dolls would kiss my army men. We’d laugh, and the game would continue the next afternoon.
The elderly man I remember for his model train set he’d faithfully be working on every time I passed his open garage. It was elaborate, a scale model holding an entire countryside, larger than life from my young perspective. He’d allow me to sit on a tall stool and watch as he carved the parts of his masterpiece. And I clearly remember a porcelain tree he gave to me, a piece which became important for games I’d play by myself, long before my younger brother was wise enough to crawl.
This was home for me, now an ancient neighborhood still sitting quietly. The sidewalk is still there, cracked and worn, but the people who made it home are gone.
“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”
― Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon
The truth is, I’ve had many homes. But for me, it is my beloved neighborhoods I recall the most. In my mind they’re forever mapped. I can recall every turn, every manicured lawn, and every sidewalk that I claimed as the King’s road.
But true home lives beyond the memory of place. It lives beyond the people who made it home.
True home is a place that we’ve forgotten. And here we all are, all of us traveling, stumbling, falling. All walking the pathway to our forever home.
Home is different for everyone. Yet it’s the direction we all travel. Everyday.
For many, forever home is heaven above. For others, its Nirvana–the “blowing out” of suffering. And for others still, its form cannot be fathomed.
For some, not knowing home, a formless abode awaits.
But we all travel this long road. And we all fall along the path.
And I have my bruises.
“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”
― Noel Langley, The Wizard of Oz
Some of the greatest stories ever told speak of finding home. They tell the classic tale of the great round. They tell of leaving home, of traveling far, finding the boon and returning with a great gift. But most importantly, they all speak of the great return, of the great trials and pitfalls, the demons and monsters and their many forms that we all face along our pathway home.
It is this story which tells that simple truth about the human spirit–that we’re all simply walking home, walking alongside each other. We’re all seeking that which fulfills us, fighting that which keeps us from our prize, and fighting a desperation to be whole with life again.
But this story has an ending, a page not yet written, a grand finale not yet penned. It is the story of creation. It’s the story of all life.
This is your story. And it is mine.
And we write this story each day of our lives.
So write a good one, and give it a good ending.
I wish you all Godspeed along your journey home.