Home. Where Is That Exactly?

I moved to the south 25 years ago. In that time, my blood has thinned, I say “y’all” easily, and sweet tea is my medicine. I crave the heat and humidity. When it starts getting cold (below 70 degrees) I want to hibernate. I discovered a love for the blues, salt water air, shrimp and grits. The slower pace doesn’t bother me in the slightest. 

My husband, who has lived here about 13 years, still thinks of the northeast as “home.” When he criticizes the south, when he gets hung up on stereotypes and generalities, I get defensive. When “The Book” (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) was released, I became fiercely protective of my beloved Savannah. Facebook has reconnected me with former high school  classmates who now live all over. When they find out I’m living in the South they’ll occasionally make  a crack about us crackers.

I am not amused.

When life throws lemons your way, most of us want to run home. But where is that exactly?

As many of you know, the place where I was born doesn’t create an image of comfort for me. I have fond memories of my childhood home, sure. But it isn’t the place I run to. And because I don’t have parental figures who offer a soft place to land, I have no one to run to, either.

It’s been a sad, sad past few days. My sister’s husband suffered much through the course of his illness. His death was scary, uncomfortable and violent. He was very aware in his last moments and my sister witnessed his tragic end. She is “home” and I am here. I can’t hug her. I can only talk to her over the phone. And while I want to be there for her, I dread going back there.

There is not where I find comfort.

I find comfort here, in Georgia, with our crazy sayings, odd fashion sense, yummy collards and cornbread. I much prefer the sweet southern comments by strangers, that a Yankee might perceive as less than genuine. But I don’t care. There is a friendliness here that I don’t find many other places. Fake or not, this little glass-half-full-gal prefers the smiles, friendly questions and terms of endearment at the grocery store.

Where is home?

Home is where your heart is.

As trite as that sounds, I am home.

My heart is here. With my amazing, loving husband – who sometimes makes me want to tear my hair out. My beautiful three children – who give me a taste of crazy every single day. In a great dream house. In a neighborhood with neighbors who are nice and neighbors who are not so nice. My heart embraces the steamy, hot summers and the snail’s pace. I am fascinated by the number of southern dialects and quaint phrases.

I will visit “home” in a few weeks for my brother-in-law’s memorial service. But where am I complete? Where do I feel most comfortable and wanted? Where is the familiar and the deep-rooted sentiment and love?

Here.

(Thank you, dear sweet readers, for your words of comfort and peace and understanding. Your thoughts mean more to me than you will ever know.)

24 Comments

Filed under All In A Day's Work, Music, Observations

24 responses to “Home. Where Is That Exactly?

  1. I am again so sorry to hear about your family’s loss.

    I am from the South (my childhood home is in TX) and I crave sweet tea and still say ya’ll even though I now live in AZ. Since my father passed, my idea of home has shifted and I am making an effort to embrace where I am in my current place (even though we have only lived here for a year). My feelings about home are constantly changing. . .

  2. I am so sorry to hear about your brother-in-law. I suspect that your sister finds a sense of home in your voice through your words of support. I’ll be thinking of both of you.

  3. It’s an unsettling feeling to not have a “home” to go to, other than the one you are in that you’re happy with. It also feels like you don’t have an anchor… but actually it becomes you ARE the anchor. And that’s very empowering… your “home” is the “home” your children can come to when they’re grown up. And that’s a very sweet thing.

    (((hugs)))

  4. Poignant post, making me think about exactly what constitutes “home.” I think it’s different for all of us.

    Thoughts are with you and the family.

  5. Penny

    1. Lots of hugs to your and your sister during this time.

    2. I read, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil a few years ago. I actually enjoyed it.

    3. I get defensive (and am not amused) when people make fun of where I live, so I can understand.

  6. Aww, sweet thing, I am so sorry. I do agree that we find home in odd places; I kind of feel like I have two. There’s my real home, the Rocky Mountains, but there’s still part of this girl who hails from North Dakota. It comes out in certain words and phrases from time to time, and it always takes me aback.

    Thinking of you and yours.

  7. Hang in there, I can’t imagine the support she will need!

    I am with you on the annoying southern comments. Especially since I have quite a Charleston twang and get mocked on a regular basis—of course he married me anyway:)—so there is that.

    Maybe make your sister a delicious southern meal when you go support her at “home”….take your southern with you. Once it’s home to you….you never really have to leave it.

    I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts. Peace.

  8. Hi Jane:

    I’m glad your brother-in-law is finally at peace…

    I know exactly what you’re talking about…I was born in Ohio, and grew up in southern Ontario. I moved to the Maritimes (Eastern Canada) in 1983, and have been here ever since. It is here that I am most comfortable, despite the fact that my extended family is still in Ohio and Florida and Ontario…like the South, the pace of life here is slower, and people are friendlier. It is cheaper to live, and the weather is better. I plan to spend the rest of my days near the ocean.

    Wendy

  9. It must be hard not being there with your sister right now, but I totally understand the mixed emotions at going “home.” As someone who has moved house and country many times I feel that my original home is anything but these days and definitely not a place I want to return to. Home is where your heart is, where your family are and where you create happy memories.

  10. I love the idea of a Home, but I was raised by folks who moved and instilled some of their Yankee ways in me as I grew up in Texas. So, while I have places that soothe my soul, they are scattered.

    Peace to you and your sister.

  11. Beautiful, beautiful post. You’re right. “Home” is where you make it. For me, it wherever my mom is. She could be in Antarctica, and “home” would be in her arms.

  12. Home is where you’re happy. Perhaps it’s easy for me to change where home is because I moved so frequently while I was growing up, but I think it has to be where you’re comfortable, where your loved ones are, where your heart sings. The plus side to having to go “home” for such a sorrowful event as your brother-in-law’s funeral is that you will get to return to your real home in Georgia.

  13. angelcel

    I’m so sorry to hear about your brother-in-law. Emotions must be battered and raw in your family right now. Thinking of you… x

  14. I understand and empathise with your post completely!

    England is a lot smaller country admittedly – but I moved over 100 miles north of where I was born 17 years ago – and stayed. I was never a southerner – nor am I a northerner – (technically I’m a midlander) but sometimes it feels like ‘no mans land’! I have an accent that matches neither vicinity – so people are often confused at placing me from a particular part of the country.

    I am close to my parents but not the rest of my siblings or extended family – so going ‘home’ is not the pleasurable visit that alot of my friends experience when they reconnect with their childhood home. I have lots of bad memories and associations there – so even though I love ‘touching base’ as I prefer to call it – it’s not exactly home anymore. I look around the village where I grew up, and I see the people from my childhood – and I am so glad that I don’t live there anymore. Spending time with and helping my parents is absolutely great don’t get me wrong – but I also love it when I can get back in the car and drive north…

    I’ve lived in my present town since university – and even though I love it here and have many friends around and about – it is still not ‘home’ as such and I would like to move on to somewhere else at some point. I rent – and so there is this added dimension to the space in which I live every day. I call it home and I have made it homely – and I love it here – however it is not ‘home’ and there is often things that I would like to do that I am unable to because of this fact.

    It helps now that I live with my partner – and my beautiful cat – as the sense of home is becoming more complete with time – as we dream together about the future and all the places that we will never afford to be able to live! But is this where I feel the most comfortable and wanted?

    Living in a shared house inevitably brings problems – and I am surrounded by people in my ‘home’ that I am not keen on – and so I would like to move definitely over the next few years to somewhere else – at least. We can’t afford to buy anywhere at the moment – so I will be looking for the next rented installment of ‘home’ when the time comes.

    We’re all passing through this place – and so I know that owning bricks and mortar doesn’t automatically produce a home – but at times I feel completely lost. Not ever having children also makes me feel lost – being gay also mkes me feel lost – as sadly when my parents aren’t here – where will be my home and my ‘base’ and my family? I worry that I really will be in limbo.

    My sisters are married, have children and own big homes – so they don’t understand where I am coming from at all. I am currently retraining – so I am hoping that this will help give direction, meaning and purpose to my life that will also enable ‘home’ to be eventually realised.

    There are so many layers to this onion!

  15. So sorry to hear of your loss.
    I am a somewhat displaced person myself having originally come from Ireland – moved to England to go to college and now living on the Isle of Wight…which funnily enough is just like Ireland. I never felt happy living in London and really only felt contented when I moved to a much smaller community with small community values here. I go back to Ireland from time to time but it’s really not home. Home for me is where my husband and children and granddaughter are, where my friends are and where I feel comfortable. I’d love to have that feeling about Ireland but I just don’t even though my mother still lives there for half of the year.
    On a different note, I spent the millenium new years eve in New Orleans and I was overwhelmed by the friendliness of the Southern folks. They were more interested in my English accent though! We had a fantastic time, heard some kicking cajun music and ate some things like catfish, grits and po’ boys that I had only ever read about. It was brilliant and an experience never to be forgotten.

  16. I agree…home is where your heart is. Thinking of your family.

  17. I am sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine your sister’s pain.

    I’ve been in this country for 16 years now and while I felt I was in limbo for awhile, torn between cultures, my childhood and my adulthood, I know now with absolute certainty that my home is here, in Chicago, where my partner and little girl are, in this life we have made for ourselves.

    I’m glad you feel the same way about your home. Having your body in one place and your heart somewhere else is no way to live.

  18. Sorry to read the sad news Jane. 😦

    Home is where the heart is. I have a house in the UK and the States, and both are home to me. As long as I have my loved ones with me, I’m home.

  19. Having moved around a lot, and called several parts of the country “home” at various points, I understand that sense of multiple homes, or nowhere being home.

    I think when the place we come from doesn’t offer that soft landing that you mention – or – there’s just no one left – we’re a little off balance. But if we find something like home elsewhere – in the place, and in the people we have in our lives, that’s a great deal.

    I’m sorry you’re so far from your sister, but glad she is able to reach out, even across the distance.

  20. My parents moved from Michigan to Alabama in 1980 and lived there for 25 years. My mom got very defensive when people put down southerners too. She too felt the gentleness and the sweetness of the south. The slower pace probably extended my Dad’s life. They loved it there and would never have come back “home” to Mich, even though they grew up there and lived there most of their lives.

    I get what you’re saying. And I’m glad you’re home. I’m so sorry about your loss though…hugs to you and your sister.

  21. What’s important (in my opinion) is that you WANT to be with your sister. You both are “home” in the love you have in your hearts, regardless of geographic location. I’m a stone’s throw, (same state) from where I was born, and will always think of that town as my “hometown.” As much as I love where I live now, I can see a day when we will up and move closer to the kids, which seem to be gravitating southward! Home is ideally anyplace close to those I love. My thoughts are with you as you travel “home” to comfort those that you love.

    Incidentally, out youngest just moved to Florida and another Floridian friend congratulated her on being “cracker” on Facebook! I’m not sure she even knows what that means yet! 😀

  22. I am very sorry for your loss…

    Home. A simple word yet so difficult to define. I often feel homesick for the other continent. Don’t laugh, but I often wish I had a secret door that could allow me to visit either place by simply crossing the threshold.

  23. When I was a child and I was upset, I would cry “I want to go home” even if I was already “home.” I finally realized my home is where ever my kids, my husband, and my best friend is.

  24. are. where my kids, my husband, and my best friend are. (See how I totally deserved to be in the English Honor Society in college?)

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