Sunday, August 24, 2014

Home is where the blank is

In March we were walking through Monticello. The docent was walloping us with stories and facts, how long it took to build; how Jefferson entertained guests; all that he put into making the perfect home for himself. We're going to gloss over the slave labor, etc., that was required to build and maintain Monticello, because that's not what this post is about. It's about what "home" means to people. Because that's where my mind went. What do we want/need out of our home? What do I want out of a home. And I guess I've come up with some ideas, some things that I need for a house, condo, apartment, estate, to be a home. After all, home is where the [blank] is.

Home as sanctuary. This is big for me. Like maybe number one. When I have had a shitty day; when the world weighs on my shoulders; when I am beat down from a beach traffic-laden commute, when I walk in my house, I want it to damn near forcibly pull the stress off my shoulders and give it a beat down to not let it inside. When it rains or snows, or blows, or is ice in the beard cold, I want to be able to exhale peace and comfort inside. If I want to be a hermit, which sometimes I do, I want to unfold myself into my home.

Home as launching pad. This is about inspiration and adventure. I am admittedly a homebody. But I've also been born with a bit of wanderlust, and even more so the concept of carpe'ing the diem. I want to paddleboard on a Sunday afternoon. I want to go hunting for snails/periwinkles with the girls. I want to go look for Mason Dixon markers. I want to wake up in the morning, pick up a book and be transported and inspired to write, to think, to explore somewhere I haven't been. I want my home to help add to that sense.

And here is the thing about home as a launching pad. For it to be one, home can't be a burden unto itself. It can't require me to spend all weekend as a slave to the yard, the house, the laundry. Because ultimately, and time and time again, I have found through experience, that all that stuff is still there waiting for you when you get back. But a spontaneous adventure, just as it happens, may only exist at that particular time.

Home as connection. This works on a lot of levels. Ideally, home should connect you to the place you live. The Eastern Shore, or Easton, or Oxford, or wherever. It should connect you to your family, your friends, your history. And this can be done even in a one room apartment.

Growing up, the above bookcase was full of Betamax tapes. It had my Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Future Primitive skateboarding tape, you name it. If memory serves it belonged to my great grandmother. I have always dug it, and it has come with me many places. It reminds me of family. It reminds me of the places I've lived. It reminds me of the various things that have lived in it. It's the bookcase, in this case, that helps make the home, both for the memories it brings back, but also for one of the most essential things for me to have in any home: books.

Home as fun. There are times when I sit around and reminisce on the great times, the parties, the cookouts, the impromptu back yard happy hours. Home should be the setting for some of your most fun times. The kind that make you smile just sitting and looking around and wondering what the walls' perspective would be, were they able to tell stories. Maybe home as playground would be included within the fun bucket.

Home as self. Or more like an extension of self. And this ties to some of the above, but it can mean a lot of different things. To some people, it is hard wood floors or tile kitchens; to some it is the paint scheme, the furniture or the landscaping; to some it is the garage or the main cave. A friend who knew Joe Namath's daughter said Broadway Joe had a massive bathroom, from where he conducted most of his business. To each their own. If you rent a place, or can't afford a home that is how you see yourself, or would want to see yourself, there are still ways to make it feel like you. For me, again, books. Maybe beer and backpacks hanging waiting to go on a trip. Running shoes asking to be taken out for a run.

Home as love/Home as feeling. Or its ability to evoke a feeling, from you. When you pull up on the street, or in the driveway, the hope is that your home makes you feel good. So many things contribute to that: pets, kids, memories, all of the things mentioned above. For some, that means a simple house that is easy to maintain. For others, a palatial estate where they can go Gatsby in their parties and entertaining. For some a log cabin, for others a cottage. For some, a place to hang a coat and suitcase and get mail between travels.

That's the thing. Home is a loaded four-letter word. It means different things to different people. It's a fill in the blank exercise. Home is where the [blank] is.

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