Sunday, November 6, 2016

Forgetting What Home Means

All my life I think I've been confused about what "home" means.

At various times I've equated it with residence - the place I live/reside. Sometimes I think of it as a place that's "mine," where I'm surrounded by my stuff, where I feel the most safe. Sometimes it's a place that I hope someday to have - as in "someday I'll buy a house that I can call home and put my roots down."

But the most important definition, the one I am constantly forgetting, is that home is my guy and my cat(s).

My apartment wouldn't be home if they didn't exist to come home to. My life wouldn't feel safe or complete or happy without them. My residence would be just a roof over my head.

My stuff doesn't factor in at all.

Though I seem to forget that every time I move and have to "rebuild" my environment.

Moving is unsettling. Changing ones environment brings all kinds of stresses. So perhaps that's why I forget what home means for a time. But I wish I had the capacity to remember, as up until now moving has been the biggest catalyst for shopping for stuff.

And as I move so often, it amounts to a lot of stuff.

If I were to be reminded of what home means to me, what it really means to me, I wouldn't need to "nest" in quite the same way. I wouldn't feel like something was missing or not right because I'd know that no matter where I went my home would be with me.

I've moved so often that it surprises me that I get confused. I would have thought that by now I'd realize that the place I live is just a temporary way station. I'm not certain why I become so invested in making a space "home" when I know I'm only going to be there for a short while and then it will become someone else's "home."

I'd often wondered if this misplaced definition of home came about because my family moved so often when I was a child that I never felt secure. Or because I came from a "broken home." Or because, unlike my guy, I never had a childhood home waiting in the wings for me if I ever needed to retreat there.

It's definitely possible.

But I like to think of myself as rational and thoughtful and capable of learning and growing. And so I would have hoped that I'd have come to the realization about what home truly is earlier in life, been excited about the changes in my environment and nomadic lifestyle instead of angst-filled, and been okay with whatever possessions I brought along, even if they didn't quite "fit" with the look of each new place.

Loss is even more unsettling.

Losing loved ones has caused more than a few setbacks. But I've come to recognize that when I lose someone who is truly meaningful to me, I attempt to fill that gaping hole of loss with objects that might be more permanent. And while it may be important for me to behave in this way at that time as part of the grieving process, it is destructive. And I hope that in future when the next tragedy hits I will be aware that no amount of objects could ever replace the person or being.

These days whenever I look around my space and feel dissatisfied with something about it, I take a beat and repeat to myself, out loud:

"This sh*t is not home. This space is not home. Nothing I could buy to fill it will ever make it home. It's just temporary. It's not what's important."

And half the time it works.

And when it doesn't, I try to distract myself by texting my guy, petting my cat, reading a book, planning my next sailing trip.

It's easy to forget what home means when the shows I watch on TV equate it with a house, when the emails I receive equate it with the possessions that fill said house, and when the idea of pointing to my guy when asked about my home feels ridiculous.

Though it really shouldn't. Hmmm, maybe I'll try that next time.

To be continued...