I like to define words and terms – as if by naming something I can wholly understand its purpose and value. I have been attempting to define the label “home” for a couple years now. Just months ago, I started to wonder, “How do other people define home?” After a few quick clicks and a couple minutes of perusal on AirBNB, I decided to make a retired and bohemian-remodeled school bus my home for an entire weekend. But really.
Over the coming months, I would fully utilize the power of Google search and crowd-sourced review sites – always seeking out zany accommodations. I would ultimately camp on the concrete slab of a tipi, get snowed-in at an A-frame (with only a couple kerosene lamps and a small stove for warmth), watch a beam of sunlight mark the hours as it swung through the oculus of a yurt, jam out in a land yacht, climb 40+ nearly vertical stairs up and down from a fire lookout tower to resupply, and contemplate sleeping inside the tent-like fire scar of a sequoia tree should the trail continue to elude me.
The myriad places challenged me physically, but mostly they challenged my idea of “home.” Listening to the proud owners/stewards beam about these curious abodes, I realized that home is nearly impossible to define; it’s more than bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, electricity, plumbing, etc. Home is not a place. Home is a feeling. So now I keep an eye out for idiosyncratic homes, and I have a strict “stay yes” policy. Because I have found that living someone else’s version of home only seems to solidify my own.
In true wordsmithing style, I present some loose definitions I’ve worked out over the years:
1 the place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household:
but more closely, psychologically:
- A space of one’s own.
- A familiar and friendly place to lie one’s head.
- A place one dreams about every other night one is gone.
- A place that resonates within even if one does not dream about it every other night,
- But that which no longer holds the mystical staying power for him anymore.
- A mental state of content.
What is home to you?
For me, home has always been where I luxuriate in bed with a book until the sun has resolutely come and gone, where I spy brightly colored birds with my grandfather, and where I gather around the fire with friends and family. Home lately is the water I boil for tea, the ragtag collection of pine needles I sleep upon after a ten mile hike, the grainy Polaroids hoarded in my wallet, the second helping of gumbo that no one demanded I eat, and the creative solution to the design problem that just came to me lickety-split. I hope home will continue to be meeting new people that define home in a totally new way, because I can’t wait to see how and where I call home in ten years.