Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mi Casa es....Whose Casa?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the meaning of the word, "Home."  Simple word - one syllable, four letters.  It has been the subject of poems, songs - I heard they even flip 'em on tv.

"Home is where the heart is." - Pliny the Elder

Well, my heart is with my family - always.  So does that mean my 'home' is the house I grew up in?  Back in Everytown, Indiana - my parent's house, where they still kick it in their retirement to this day?  

That house is infested with memories.  I swear Mellencamp's Pink Houses plays in my head every time I walk in the door.  I can return after any length away, and immediately feel at peace.  Smell my dad's cooking.  Watch movies with my mom.  Play croquet with my niece and nephews in the back yard.  Perfection.

There is only one problem - it exists in the middle of Everytown, Indiana.  One side of town smells like the paper mill (which itself smells like a dirty asshole).  The hottest nightspot is the smoking section at the local Applebee's.  And worst of all, the entire town is chock-a-block full of everyone who's ever been photographed on People of Wal-Mart.  

I spent 24 years trying to get out of that particular 'burg.  And I did, ten years ago, to sunny California.  And I settled in another little (but altogether different) town.  

"Where thou art - that - is Home." - Emily Dickinson.

Gee, thanks Emily!  That really clears shit up.

I love the City of Dana Point.  It's beautiful, it's mellow, and it moves at my pace.  In truth, I don't know that I ever want to leave - because it is the kind of town I always saw myself retiring in.  Buying a boat.  Reading a paper while having brunch on the patio at Hennesey's.  Come the afternoon, shuffling down to Turk's, where the youngest waitress had her first shift when Carter was in office - and where they pour the drinks strong enough to make you feel like an adult.

But the problem with Dana Point?  The 589 square feet that make up my apartment.  The one that I pay $1200 a month for.  It's nice, don't get me wrong.  But it is by no means a home.  California is beautiful.  It has mountains, valleys, beaches and forests.  It also has a fucking outrageous average property value.  I can't afford a house out here - which in turn, makes it feel less and less like a home.

So is it the city you live in?  Is it the building you reside in?  Maybe it's being closer to those who mean the most to you.  Honestly?  I don't know.  Woodie Gutherie once sang, "I ain't got no home in this world anymore."  

I'm feeling ya, Woodie.  It may be time for me to start looking again.


Lola Lakely said...

You are pretty much echoeing everything that I'm thinking. Especially given the fact that I'm closer than ever to selling my childhood home. I want to get out of here, move closer to the ocean. Leave everything. But at the end of the day, I've come to realize that home to me is more about the people around me and less about the place. Because it's the people you love that matter most in this world. In the end it's really only geography.

Laurnie said...

Well you know why this makes me entirely happy

*uncorked said...

I think you can have different definitions of "home" at different times in your life. I've lived in 7 or 8 different houses in my life, in 3 different states. All of them at some point felt like home. In college my house felt like home with friends coming in and out at all hours of the day and night, that first taste of being away from your parents and having freedom.

In Texas it felt like home because I was completely on my own and trying to be responsible enough to still have fun and not flunk out of law school.

In my condo, at first it felt like home because I was proud of myself to be able to buy a place, make my mortgage payments, and take care of things like real estate taxes and homeowners association fees. Now, it feels less like home because I would like to sell it but I can't. Yet I still have those monthly reminders called mortgage payments.

I think your definition of "home" can and should evolve depending on where you are in life. The most important thing that I've learned is that "home" is where you should be at peace, whether that's people or a place. I don't think geography really matters.

Or maybe we're both over-thinking this and it's wherever you get your effing mail.

Welcome to the Clusterf*ck said...

@ Lola: Lady, you hit it on the head - twice. I will never, ever regret moving away from home to Cali. It has defined me in many ways. And yet, part of me has always yearned to go back, and be who I was back then. Which is more important? To be on my own and in a place I want to be? Or live my life close to those who mean the most to me? I'll let you know if I ever figure it out.

@ Laurnie: You are one of those reasons why I will never regret making the move out here. Not having known you as a friend would have been fucking tragic.

@ uncorked: You are the reason that Cali can't feel like home right now. Because not being able to see you when I need a hug or when you need your hair played with? IT SUCKS.

The Bee Charmer said...

That's a great post. I grew up in West Virginia - in a little town like the one in Indiana and my parents still live there. I get it. I also think that your physical 'home' is what you make it - whether you own it or not. Take your 589 square feet and make it your home. Make it comfortable. Make it beautiful. When you move you can take art, music and good sheets and towels with you. And to some extent, leave the unanswered future questions about owning/renting to a higher power. I've wasted a lot of time being stressed and not living 'now' because I was worried about where I'd be 'then'. I had to let it go and when I did my whole life opened up before me. Good luck.

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