More than where I hang my hat.

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Oh, wait. I don't really wear hats.
I wish I did.
I wish men still wore (non-baseball) hats and women wore hats and gloves and dresses.
I wish people still dressed to go to dinner/the ballet/travel on an airplane.
I wish I could stay on topic!

What defines a home? This question was posed to me by a new friend on Twitter, Brooke, a woman who lost her home to a fire just two short years ago… I was intrigued enough to take on her meme, and so here it is.

Like most grunge-era teenagers, I wrote a LOT of terrible poetry in high school, usually when I was depressed (read: feeling fat or heartbroken) or just home bored on a Friday night. I wrote this in 1994 during one of those teen-hormone induced funks I was so prone to:

What is home?
Four walls?
A roof?
A floor?
That's a house.
But what is a home?
All love
A family
Sticking together
Can you be a home
If you don't have a house?
Who knows?

And looking back now, nearing 20 years later (Aaack!) I think I was onto something!

This meme comes at an interesting time for me; we're looking at moving this summer, from the first house we ever bought, from where we've been for the last six years. I can get pretty misty thinking about it, about leaving this house and never coming back.
I look at the kitchen that we gutted and remodeled ourselves, the bamboo floors that I don't love as much as I thought I would, but that we installed on our own. The little hallway upstairs where Jamie and I both paced with Max when he was an inconsolably wailing infant, freshly home from the NICU. The closet where I stashed my wedding dress before the wedding, hidden under a bed sheet so Jamie wouldn't accidentally see it. Max's first steps were taken here. Our not-very-successful first container garden, the gorgeous planter box Jamie built for it.

All of these things make up our first house, but they are not what make our home. The important things, the things that absolutely matter, will come with me when we leave.
Max and Jamie, of course. They don't stay with the house. The memories we've made here will come with us, so we (I) don't need the physical location to still have the memory.

I'm not gonna lie; The Stuff has its place; a couch to sit on, clothes to wear. I love surrounding myself with things that have meaning to me, so having and displaying those things make it “home” for me… I love having photos of people I love around me; I have my digital frame on my desk at work, and my living room wall is adorned with collections of photos and that make me smile. Paintings that mean something to me. That's what home is.

I can't definitively say “Home is: blah, blah, blah. The End” because it's something different for everyone, as it should be. It's not about the square footage, or the floor plan or the landscaping or the paint colors. It's about what happens there; the love, the laughter, the living.

We spent last weekend in Yosemite and stayed in a little cabin, number 20A. While out on our adventuring around the park, we told Max that it was time to head home. His response? “You mean two-zero-A? That's not home! That's two-zero-A!”

I think the kid is onto something.

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  1. Kids are so brilliant!

    This post made me think about all of my angsty teenage poetry, which I miss terribly, despite it being incredibly uncomfortable for an adult to read (even if it's just a past incarnation of myself). And holy crap can I write a run-on sentence!

    Do you think that you would still be as tied to your memories without your "stuff?" I think about this question a lot actually because, like that poetry, I don't have any of it, and I can't copy an old poem (or even reference it). I only know the general tone of it. And the memories are a huge part of home for me as well. But without the stuff I find it harder to hold on to the memories. I wonder if that's the same for everyone.

    I'm so glad you joined in!!

  2. There are certainly some memories that are tied to Stuff… I think that's a big part of why my photography is SO important to me; if my house were to (sorry for the analogy!) burn down tomorrow, the vast majority of my photos are backed up online… I'd be able to piece things back together from that; at least Max's life is well-documented!

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