Home Sweet Home

Some of the most popular stories, because we can all relate to them, are ultimately about ‘home’. For example, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz trying to get back home to Kansas; ET trying to get back to his home planet; the Starship Enterprise trying to return to earth; Peer Gynt travelling the world only to realise that the best place, the place he wanted to be, was the place he started out from – his home village. ‘Home is where the heart is.’

‘Home’ is one of those words that convey a universal but complex meaning whenever and wherever it is used, for the writer and the reader, the speaker and the listener. In English at least, it is a one syllable power-word that, throughout the centuries, has carried intense emotion whether referencing the place we came from, the place we want to be or get back to, the place we are searching for or have still to create. ‘There is no place like home.’

‘Home’ is not just a noun meaning the place where one lives; abode, domicile, habitat, residence; a place providing professional care; or the place where one was born (hometown, home county; home country etc.) It can also be an adjective (homely), an adverb (homespun) and a verb (to home in on). ‘Home’ relates not just to the ground on which we live, but also that where we work: home-office; homework; homepage, home-computer; and where and what we play: home-ground, home-team, home side, homerun, home straight. ‘Football’s coming home.’

‘Home’ grounds us in reality but also identifies threat and/or danger through idiomatic phrases in common use: we are at home (comfortable and ready to receive visitors) when someone brings home to us (makes us aware of something significant) that is close to home (uncomfortably accurate) that is hammered home (forcefully stressed) and hits home (has the intended effect)! Phew! ‘Home is where we should feel secure and comfortable’. Catherine Pulsifer

No wonder then that we react so emotionally to the plight of people who are homeless in our society, especially in our own country. Even worse, not just homeless but also stateless as asylum seekers or refugees from their home country as a result of violent terrorism and/or war, that leaves them not just separated from their ‘home’ but also from their family and loved ones, some of whom may in fact, be lost to them forever. In these circumstances, they trek to where they think they might find another, an alternative home, carrying with them forever the memory of their original ‘home’ that they hope to somehow recreate. “The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Maya Angelou

There are times in our lives when we never appreciate ‘home’ more than when we are away from our perception of it – when we leave our family home for the first or a temporary time, as schoolchildren or as first year students, or gap-year travellers/workers in foreign parts. And why we ALWAYS look forward to returning to it, whether after years, a few months or just a holiday week away? ‘Home is the most popular, and will be the most enduring of all earthly establishments’. Channing Pollock

For me, ‘home’ is transient and changes over time. But it is always the place where you can place one or more definitions that suit where you are in life and in yourself. My favourite definition is,” a place from which it/he/she originated; from where something (someone) flourishes;” It sounds like a greenhouse or a laboratory. But, what better way to define one’s childhood home, hometown, school/college/university. Perhaps ‘home’ always starts out as the place where we grow and develop and, importantly, we remember that place with affection and want to stay in that place or ‘state of mind’. But it then develops into ANOTHER place where we also grow and flourish. These places are for me the places where I lived and set up home alone: London, Sheffield (briefly) and now Leamington. ‘People usually are the happiest at home’. William Shakespeare.

The ultimate place to call home, where one feels ‘at home’, is in the building and the location that we choose and then recreate or create from scratch, to be our ideal ‘home’. For me, who lives alone and is a solo lifestyle expert, this is the place where I have created a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing living space, which meets MY lifestyle requirements, and where I also feel safe, happy and creative. It is my retreat. And that is also because of the people who I choose to have and gather around me, the loving people: family, long-term friends, people in one of my Groups, people I can trust. It’s where I live now and where I’m happy, content and creative. When I go away, it is the place to which I look forward to returning. “Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

10 April 2019