This simple word carries such complexity.
Especially now, as our homes have become our workplaces, our refuge, and our sometimes-too-close quarantine quarters all rolled into one.
Home means so much more than that, as I discovered while being on the road for a month, living out of a suitcase, far away.
I felt much like Dorothy, as I couldn’t wait to enjoy a respite from the patterns that the pandemic has forced upon us. Life was beginning to feel like a wash, rinse, spin, repeat cycle. Outside of a new, exciting project in the world of children’s book publishing, I had little desire to write, to journal, to create.
I was ready for an adventure.
Our travels took us from our home in Ohio to warmer temperatures of the south, from the Carolinas to Georgia and through to Louisiana. We loved spending time with our grown children, catching up with family and friends, and ultimately, bearing witness to my niece’s beautiful wedding.
We drove over 3,000 miles, listening to true-crime podcasts, talk radio, and sang to classic rock and Motown. I succumbed to eating gluten-free fast food, something I haven’t done in over 4 years. I’m now in rehab from french fries.
We raised our glasses to various life events, from celebrating a new baby within extended family ranks, to the bride and groom, to being reunited with children, siblings, and friends. We raised our glasses a lot. I’m now in rehab from wine too.
We hiked and walked nearly every day, enjoying the change of seasons and mother nature at her best. And worst. Zeta came in with a vengeance during our time in North Carolina. Heavy winds and rain brought down trees and power lines, putting our travels on pause.
We lugged our stuff into five different homes and one hotel, grateful to our hosts for such comfortable sleeping spaces. We adjusted to different night sounds, from coyotes calling and gathering, to city street sounds.
We fished, we golfed, walked our Labrador retriever, Luna, we swam, and we danced. We helped our daughter with home projects, inside and out. Then when we needed a break, we read, relaxed, did yoga.
After about three weeks, I really felt like Dorothy. After all the fun, the French fries, the toasts, the different beds, the coyotes, and the late-night horns honking, I wanted nothing more than to click my heels and to be back home.
I was ready for my quiet oasis, my writing space. I was ready for our kitchen, our bed. I was ready for home.
Yet, I tried to be mindful of the experiences that were behind me on the travels, and those still in store. All along the way, I tried to appreciate that home is less a place than a feeling.
It’s the first hug you’ve had from your grown son and daughter after being away from each other for months. It’s the stories shared from your childhood with your siblings, laughing until you almost pee. It’s the giggling, in person, with your nieces. It’s the walk on the beach with your sister-in-law, the making of communal meals with friends, and yes, the tears shed over those who are no longer physically with us.
Yes, Dorothy, there is no place like home, but home is truly wherever our hearts are.