Wednesday Word of the Week, May 25

25 May

A Home is Not a House

This week’s word is: HOME.

The place where you live — Macmillan Dictionary Online

I have been thinking about the concept of home a great deal lately. In just over two weeks, I will be moving from one home to another. I realize that in 21st Century America people move all the time, but this is a significant change for me.

I have lived my entire life in Vermont. Geographically, moving to Braintree, MA (part of Boston’s metropolitan area) isn’t such a big stretch. In almost every other way, it is a huge departure for me. Not only have I lived all my life in one state, I have lived 22 of my nearly 29 years in one town. For the past several months, I have even lived in the house where I grew up. Again, these facts may not be unusual, but they contribute to my sense of the magnitude of my coming change.

I am excited to be moving on with my life, even with many unknowns ahead of me. As I have started packing, I realized that the reason this move is less daunting than it might have been has to do with an old Word of the Week: FAMILY. I know that I have the support of Mom and Granddad, even though they’ll remain here. Distance doesn’t matter. This place will always be home, too. More than this, I am not moving on in a vacuum. I will be sharing a home with my dearest friends, Drew and John. That makes a new place home even before I get there.

I am a very lucky man. I haven’t really figured out my life (welcome to 28 in 2011!), but I have the support I need to feel at home and loved. I have the skill and education to make the most of the opportunities that exist, even in this horrible economy. I have been part of a strong community here, and, knowing how important community is to me, will make building a new one a top priority in my new home.

As I’ve been contemplating this change (and my great good fortune), I have come to realize that the definition of home I list above is tepid at best. The word has so much deeper meaning. Even people who have a “place where they live” may not feel at home. Perhaps their relationship is not valued, or is misunderstood, or they are treated as second-class by the people who surround them. This is the saddest thing I can imagine: not being able to feel at home at home.

That realization led me to understand another reason that I feel less overwhelmed by this move: I also have a virtual home. The Solipsistic Me is a wonderful community that has let me spread my wings and hone my voice. Michael has been my champion, teacher, and muse. I have always cared about the wider world but — until recently — had limited ways to touch it. Through this vehicle I feel that there is a bit of home awaiting me wherever I go. Thank you, regular readers and commenters for making that true. I hope your weekly visits to my e-maunderings have given you a bit of a home, too.

So what is home? They say (forgive the cliché) that it is where the heart is. That is very true, but misleading, just like the literal translation about residence. Home is knowing that you are wanted and loved, whether the people who feel that way are near or far. Home is the sense that, wherever you live, you have belonging somewhere. I am very luck to have Home, in many places. We should never rest until everyone can feel this way.

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