I’ve been homeless for about 7 months.
Now, I’m not entirely destitute, and I haven’t been sleeping on the asphalt, but I’ve been without a place of my own since returning from overseas. Various generous family members have taken in my wife and I, but we’re still without a place where we’re the only residents.
Home has long been an interesting question for me. What is home?
I would classify myself as a “home body,” by which I generally mean that I never succumb to cabin fever (my record is 8 days in a row without ever leaving my apartment) and have a fairly low need for adventure. I’m content to stay at home, where I work, eat, do my hobbies, and share a couch with my best friend (my wife).
But otherwise, we’ve tried on several definitions of “home” in the past.
Home is where I’m from. Since birth, I’ve lived for a year or more at 9 different addresses, in 2 different states, and 3 different countries. The question “where are you from?” tends to retrieve fairly little information for the asker. I usually respond with something like, “I was born in…, but I most recently lived in….”
Home is where my closet is. In addition to the 9 different home addresses, I can’t even begin to number the vast array of hotel rooms that I’ve stayed in over the last 6 years or so. Despite (or perhaps because of) being a “home body,” I often find myself on a trip saying “Let’s go home”…by which I really mean our hotel room.
My friends’ kids actually coined a phrase for just such an occasion: “some” (rhymes with home). It means “sorta home”–the place that you’re currently living in, even though it may not be for very long.
Home is wherever I’m sleeping tonight. This expansive definition goes far beyond hotel rooms to include buses, airports, and even airplanes. Yes, this little fabric seat with my 6.75 inches of legroom is “home” while I try and sleep a bit during the next 14 hours of flight time.
Home is wherever we’re together. My wife and I often find ourselves resorting to this definition of home, vague though it may be. Sometimes we have little idea of where we’re headed, and even less idea of when we’ll actually arrive there, but in the meantime, the one thing we’re certain of is being together, and thus our little bubble of space defined by our crouched bodies on the airport terminal floor is home. Our limited breathing space on an insanely overcrowded Asian subway is home. Our makeshift windbreak at the outdoor bus stop in the midst of a chilling winter storm is home.
“Are you going home for the holidays?” As you might imagine, answering questions such as these tends to make me smile. Where is home?
We’re not in Kansas anymore. In fact, I’ve never even been to Kansas. So if Kansas isn’t it, then where is that place which, for me, is unlike any other? And when will I get there? And what if I don’t have any ruby slippers?