Home is defined as “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household,” and “relating to the place where one lives.”
My Grama always used to say, “home is where the laundry is.”
But what is home?
Is it a house, in any location? The house you grew up in?
Is it a place? Is it a town? Is it where ever your family picks up and moves to?
I think this answer is different for everyone. For me, I used to consider my grandparent’s house “home.” I spent more time there as a child than anywhere else, to include both of my parent’s houses. Almost every single childhood memory I have goes directly back to that house. I remember when the dirt road to get to the house took at least 5 minutes to get down because the highway hadn’t been expanded yet and the pot holes and my Grampa having to let the truck with the trailer only go 5 miles an hour so he didn’t pop a tire… or worse. I remember when the house didn’t have the doors on the leintoo and my grandfather would pull the truck and trailer clear up passed the mailbox and back them in with incredible precision. I am convinced that man could still do that with his eyes closed. I remember pulling my bike out of the garage and riding almost to the high way, cutting through the old dingy efficiency apartments/motel and riding to the next street over because it was paved. There used to be a building right next to that old motel (that is no longer there) that had fallen apart. The roof had long been caved in, and the walls were coming down. Into my teenage years, I went on my first real date leaving from that house. I left for many parties from that house. I learned quite a bit about the cars I drove while living in that house. I learned how to change my own oil, and tires in the drive way of my grandparent’s house. I even replaced the timing belt in my old Chevy Cavalier with my Grampa at that house. I heard many lectures and stories of my Grampa’s childhood from that house. (Anyone heard the story of how our grandparents had to walk to school and home uphill both ways in the Michigan snow?) I quit high school and got my GED from that house. I messed up more times than I can count in that house. I left for the military while living in that house.
After I left for the military and married (my now ex-husband), my Grama would say, “home is where the laundry is.” When I’d call and express how much I missed home. I missed my best friend, the Florida beaches, the warm… ok, hot… weather, the sunshine, my friends (or, at least, who I thought were my friends), just sitting on the back porch with my Grampa talking about whatever it was that he heard on the news or what happened at work or any of the other various things we’d talk about, I missed my Grama’s apple pie (and I still can’t get the recipe right!)…
Germany was a nice place to live for a few years, and a place I would really love to visit again. The markets with fresh produce, the places for kids to play (MegaPlay in Grafenwhöer and the indoor swim park in Nürnberg were our favorites!), the old and historical buildings and cathedrals, and just the way we lived. Four years we lived there, and it’s where I birthed my second child. An experience that has not been forgotten, and one I wish was more common for women in the U.S. But when it came time to leave Germany, I was ready. I was ready for paying in dollars, and not euro (and not losing money when I needed to exchange dollars for euro). I was ready to not spend a few thousand dollars and 9 hours on a flight from Germany to visit the U.S…. I still felt sad when I left… there was still so many places we hadn’t visited, and so many beautiful places just within The Old Country that we’d left unseen.
Washington was a beautiful welcome. Our first winter there, just a few weeks after arriving, we got a nasty snow storm that left us without power for 5 days. I thought that if I made it through that winter, Washington would be alright. It turned out to be more that just alright. Never did a place feel so much like home… that wasn’t where I grew up… as Washington. So many things happened in the house my exhusband and I purchased together… We grew apart in that house, his PTSD came to the surface (and stayed) in that house, I cleaned the living room carpet less than 48 hours postpartum in that housee (for reasons I won’t get into right now), I experienced postpartum depression with anxiety in that housee, I mourned the death of one of my sisters in that house, I began to mourn the death of one of my brothers in that house, and I became a single mother to three children in that house. One of my best friends surprise visited me in that house and helped me start to get my shit together after my divorce started. One of my brothers moved in with me in that house and although he only stayed for a short while and we didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things… my favorite place was a spot at the foot of his bed. I made my own friends, outside of the military, in that house. I started and grew my birth photography business in that house. I had a lot of personal growth in that house, despite all the negative that happened. I had friends that turned into family spend time with me and the kids, and many nights of Cards Against Humanity in that house. I went on my first camping trip with my brother (that passed) and a friend, from that house.
It’s been a difficult adjustment since moving back to my hometown. Not that I expected everything to be the same, but I had hoped what I was walking into would be similar to what I had in Washington. I should have known better. But, I do believe that part of my problem is not that Florida isn’t “home,” but that I wasn’t ready to leave Washington. I feel incredibly homesick for a place that I never even stepped foot into until I moved there from Germany. I only have talked to a handful of the friends I had there since moving… out of sight, out of mind? Probably. Most likely. But the sting from not hearing from my people… it still stings.
I’ve been back in my hometown for almost 6 months now. It doesn’t feel like it used to, but it’s starting to feel like home again.