Writers note: Thank you friends and family for being a loving and loyal guide through all my transitions. For your unfettered wisdom, I am eternally grateful. "Home" may mean a lot of different things, but you are "home" to me.
"Home is a place we all must find, child. It’s not just a place where you eat and sleep. Home is knowing. Knowing your mind. Knowing your heart. Knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we’re always home, anywhere” –Glinda, Wizard of Oz
The feeling of “home” is felt most deeply in its absence.
We feel the pangs of missing home when we’re traveling or making a big move to a new city. It’s those feelings that make coming back home so satisfying. I’ve thought a lot about “home” as I transition into my new city of San Francisco. As I slowly acquaint myself to a new landscape, a new routine, new faces, and a brand new living space— I found myself grasping for a sense of “home" with a feeling of vulnerability (which is something to embrace).
During this past month, I asked my friends and family about their interpretation of home as a way for me to process and understand how we, as individuals, feel a sense of place. The big two questions were:
What makes home, a home? What does home represent?
What I learned is that “Home” is more than just a shell of a house. Home is a feeling. An impression. A treasured memory. Home is an abstraction that allows you to be you without judgment. It’s the feeling you get when you wear your favorite pair of jeans that you’ve worn out over the course of time. It's the taste of comfort food cooked by your mom. It's the warm fuzzy feeling of being surrounded by your best friends.
Home is an incredibly soulful place that is so deeply personal and nuanced— it is untouchable, and we guard this feeling with ferocious love and fervor. It grounds us back to our truest self. As we go through the tides of life, we may lose ourselves, but home always brings us back.
What I know is that we build a house by laying down brick after brick, but we build a home founded on our cherished memories and the vision of who we are. We shape it through the dreams of our imagined life. We take this wherever we go.
Remember, "Home" doesn't just happen. It's a feeling and a sense of place in the world that is built over time. It's an investment in creating a deeper connection with the things that matter to you (whether it be your friends, family, nature...or you!). It's the journey to get there that makes it so special.
I asked several friends to send me a postcard of what home represented to them. What manifested was beautiful articulation of home, each unique and magnificently idiosyncratic.
From Wakako Takagi:
“House is a shell to us. We do not get attached to our house and we are ready to move anywhere when it’s time. Home…on the other hand, is an experience that is truly unique to who we are and what we believe. Home is with us wherever we go.”
From Eunice Roe:
"When most people think of “home” they associate with an actual structure. To me, home is something that is not tangible but rather a feeling. Home is, and represents love, peace, security, and a deep connection to myself and the people I care about the most. Every time I do come “home” the feelings I get/send/help me to stay grounded and be recharged so I can be a better me…. Home is anywhere I feel a strong connection to the feelings I described"
From Susan Kennedy:
“I had to think long about this…because at first I tried to fit The (other) Kennedy Compound into my picture of Home. I realized, quickly, that I could not because in reality, I have 3 spaces I call “HOME.” The (other) Kennedy Compound, our cottage and CALI. To me, home is a feeling— not a place. HOME is where my soul gets its filling of peace, love, acceptance, serenity and inspiration. Home is where my soul is most happy”
From Laura Dye:
"Thank you so much for this question. I’ve been thinking about this too. I so want to build a permanent place to call home— like the experience of my youth (I lived in one house for all but 4 years of my childhood). More and more, I’m wondering if I have to come to terms with the fact that this version of “home”— a single place— may be temporarily unachievable. So in lieu of that, I have realized that home to me is an experience that I have when certain (nature based) things come together. I feel it when I see the pattern of light come through the trees. When I hear the rustling of the leaves, and when I am physically connected to the ground (either the grass between my toes of sitting down taking in my childhood backyard - which has now been sold). For the time being, these fleeting moments feel familiar and like home."
From Matthew Grayson:
“Home is a place where little things are free. To grow large and be eaten, or hugged.”
I also asked few good friends and family to send me a photograph of what home represented— interpretations being wide and varied.
From Echo Kao
“Home is sentimental, it reminds you of where you have been and where you are. A safe place to hide and share intimate stories with friends. A white canvas to experiment with. Time Alone.”
From Robert Quintero
“Home is where I have the illusion of having the greatest control over my reality. That illusion is shattered repeated by my wife and 2 small children on a consistent basis, but I’m happier for it.”
From Danny Park
“Home is a space where I can always return to and know I’m loved just the way I am”
From Diana Wu
“My favorite mug cup(s)” Drinking a hot cup of tea out of my own ceramic mug is something I feel so close to home. It is the memory of sharing moments with my family and loved ones around the dining table. That feeling of warmth and safeness, brings me Home."
From Matthew Park
“Growing up, I always felt guilty whenever idle; every waking moment had to be accounted for or occupied with an activity. For me (today), a home is someplace I can be still and centered— regardless of the noise around me.”
From Paula Lee:
“Home is an organized space where each item has its own “home.” I feel at peace knowing that each of my possessions has a designated place to reside, unfettered by the confusion of “where do I live”? This is why I am never fully at peace while traveling – I look forward to eventually coming home to an orderly space. I realize this most fully when I move spaces- the transition times when things are in boxes or disarray- because I feel physically ill at ease until the unpacking is done; unpacking meaning that I’ve found a home for each of my hundreds of possessions. Their having a home makes me feel at home.
As I read through the different thoughts and representations of what home means to different people, I thought back to what home meant to me. For me, home was a specific feeling embedded in my favorite memory. It's not a particularly eventful memory, but what is unique is how ordinary is it. I hear my mom’s scent and the sounds of my dad’s voice. I hear the radio in the background and my brother clicking away at his keyboard. I feel warmth seeping through the curtains and I smell the gardenias that used to grow in our backyard that filled the air during the summers. The scent would radiate all over. I hear clanking in the kitchen, I feel the carpet in between my toes and I rest snuggly in the sweet spots I’ve carved out on our old worn out couch. I feel safe. I feel secure in the rhythms of the day.
In all its variations— at the end, "home" is love.
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