Thursday, August 21, 2014


Know who said that?

Pliny the Elder, Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher. Born 1st Century AD.

I don't know the occasion of his pronouncement, but it's become a cliché in our time. Like most clichés, it's true.

Consider the following:
  • In my first 20 years on Earth, I moved from one abode to another 17 times.
  • During those moves, I lived in houses, apartments, and one time a remodeled gas station.
  • Our moves took us from small town to country, to larger town, to city, to country again, and back to small town.
  • I lived in five different states of the Union, all of them in the Midwest
For a number of years, during these moves, my home was where my mother was. When I was 15, my mother died--so that anchor was gone from my life.

After that my sense of home--not as a place but as an attachment--underwent several incarnations. I married, had children, and began making a home for them. (In those days, wives/moms were able to stay home and be with the children, being homemakers in the literal sense of the word.) Like many new parents, I tried to give my children what I didn't have as a kid--a house they could call home, freedom to explore, and permission to keep every blessed thing they wanted to. It helped that the first house we bought was a four-bedroom, two-story square frame house, with large rooms, a basement, and an airing porch on the back. Plus a big yard, fenced in, and room for a dog and a cat (or two--they don't seem to come in singles for this family), plus a neighborhood full of friends to play with, go to school with, and get in trouble with.

When the children were in school and I had free time during the day, I went back to college to finish my degree. I made friends there who have lasted through the years into retirement. They've become part of my family--and though we aren't close geographically, we are close in the best way of all--we're at home with each other whenever we meet.

I love grocery shopping when I'm home. That's what makes me feel totally normal. I love both the idea of home as in being with my family and friends, and also the idea of exploration. I think those two are probably my great interests.
Yo-Yo Ma
I can't show you pictures of my homes--there were too many down through the years. The one I live in now is a three-bedroom ranch, like the houses my father built most of his life. My town's population is around 12,000, and it's the county seat.
For a number of years my oldest daughter and I went back to our hometown to visit my aunt and several first cousins. One year we attended a family reunion, on the 100th anniversary of my maternal grandparents' wedding. After a life of nearly perpetual moving around, I felt quite grounded in the park that day--I was related to all these people, and so was my daughter. We belonged.

Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
The most important thing is this: I've been in this house, in my small city, for 30 years. I've found a physical place to call home. But if I had to leave, I could. Home is a concept--and I carry its picture in my heart.


  1. NIce one, Judith. I'm very attached to my house, but figure I could be home anywhere if I had to.

  2. Good to be versatile, isn't it? Helps with our writing. Thanks for visiting, Liz.