I’ve been thinking about this a great deal lately. What is home? Where is home? What does that look like for my kids in the future? Where will they call home? Will it be Topeka? Will they call Tucson home? Or will it be New Orleans? Because you know I’m going there!
I still call Stockton home. I haven’t lived there since 1990, but it is what I mean when I say, “I’m going home.” It is a run-down little town with a brick main street, on the crossroads of two highways. It is a two-story green house with a wrap-around front porch (even though it is now yellow and purple). It is a spiral staircase and a sewing room. It is a bedroom so cold in the winter my water glass had ice on the top and so hot in the summer I prayed for a breeze. It is cedar trees to the north, acting as a boundary to the cemetery. It is Pauline to the south and a giant mulberry tree we would climb and savor, long gone. It is Charlotte and Harold across the alley, and the Sanders down the way a bit. It is a red brick schoolhouse where my daddy taught for decades. It is Granny and Grandad’s house with roses, iris, a broken peach tree, the smell of pipe tobacco and coffee, and a ceramic poodle. It is the Rooks County Free Fair and harness racing. It is where my parents are buried, within view of each other but not together, where I can see the house I spent most of my time. Mama is beside Granny and Grandad with her teardrop shaped stone with my name on it. Daddy is down the road a bit with a shiny black stone with a bell carved on it. That is home.
Of course, I truly believe that when I move to New Orleans, that will become home. There are so many quotes about how that city seeps into your blood and your soul. It is truth for me. My favorite is this, “Someone suggested that there’s an incomplete part of our chromosomes that gets repaired or found when we hit New Orleans. Some of us just belong here.” This is how I feel every time I step foot in this smelly disaster of a city. I love it, everything about it. I feel complete, like I am home. There is part of me that sleeps until I hit the quarter. When I hear the music, smell the beignets, feel the wind off the Mississippi, I am fully alive. I know it is a dirty place. I know it is full of corruption and violence and ugliness, but it is the most beautiful place I know. I have seen ancient ruins in Greece, castles in Prague, volcanoes in Italy, beaches in California and the Carolinas, but nothing is more amazing to me than New Orleans. The colors, the sounds, the people are what make me feel like I need to be there. I need to be there for a long time.
I wonder where “home” will be for my kids. Aaron was born while we lived in Minneapolis, KS. We moved before he was two. I’m sure that isn’t home. Will it be Woodvalley Place where he spent most of his childhood? Where his sister was brought home from the hospital. Running and playing with Conner and the Teschke kids every day. Open garage doors and toys that were free game for anyone to use. Basketball games that spanned three driveways and a cul-de-sac. Front doors that weren’t locked so kids can roam freely. Will it be Briarwood Lane? Where he learned to drive. Hung out with his friends. Spent hours in the driveway shooting hoops with the boys. Super Bowl Parties. The National Championship. His first heartbreak. His graduation party and where he dreamed about a real future.
What about Alynne? She was seven when we left the cul-de-sac and Abbie and Maddie and Miss Debbie and Mama Gwen. She was queen of that cul-de-sac, I’m sure. She learned to ride a bike and drive Mama Gwen’s car. Or will it be the new house, as we still call it, ten years later? She is convinced her room is haunted. There have been countless sleepovers, talks about gross boys and some who aren’t so gross, discussions about her dreams, the reality of her allergy and its frightening possibilities. I don’t know which she could call home.
Will it be Tucson? Where we will spend their young adult lives. Where they will come with spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, my grandchildren. Where we will spend years learning all about the city and its people. Where we will most likely work our last days and dream of retirement.
I think home is where your heart feels full. It might not be a specific location or a house where you have lived. It could be a dream or a place where you are complete. It might be your childhood home. Or where you spent the time with your young and true love. It could be where you raised your babies. Or a place where you have never lived. Home is your heart.