Home, Part 1
Hello, stranger! Okay, so realize I'm the stranger in this scenario. I haven't been writing for a really long time and thus this blog has been dormant. I'll be very transparent here: Life circumstances made it difficult, if not impossible, to keep this blog up. There were days I could barely do what I needed to do to keep myself and my family afloat, so by the wayside went the writing. This pandemic has lasted much longer than any of us could have anticipated and life hasn't gotten much easier, has it? Thank you for your patience. I appreciate those of you who have subscribed to my little blog. I hope to bring you some more of my heart in the following posts. -jy
I have been thinking a lot about the notion of home and homeness. What makes a space a home? And a question I used to ask my students (when I was teaching college and grad students) was where is home for you? I would preface by saying that I understand that the home where you grew up may not be home to you. It could be a grandparent’s home or it could even be your dorm room. I would say this because I am one for sure who knows that home isn’t always the place where you grew up or where you are at the present time.
Roughly two years ago as I was backing out of my garage with my younger daughter, on our way to her dance studio for a class, I saw a gentleman exiting his car parked along my curb, with his eyes fixed on my house as he slowly made his way up my driveway. Naturally, I was a bit confused and a little concerned. My initial thought was that he was a solicitor of some sort. Solar panels or something. I rolled my window down and he barely even glanced my direction—eyes fixed on the house--and I asked him what he needed.
He asked me if I was the owner of the house and I told him I was. He told me his name was Jim and that he used to own my house. And that today was his last day of work, as that he is now retired. On his way home from work, he felt the desire to visit this house because even though he didn’t live there long (two to three
years), this was his favorite house and he always thought of it as home. He told me the story of how shortly after purchasing this house his wife found her dream house and he reluctantly sold this one and bought her dream home and they moved in and lived there ever since. But while they were just about 10 miles away, he said he never forgot about this house and always secretly wished he stayed.
At the time, I thought this was slightly bizarre and it made me a little uncomfortable that this stranger was sharing rather personal thoughts with me. He asked me about some things he built in the house and if they were still there. I assured him they were and thanked him for the care he took in installing simple things like a cement pad in the backyard, which served as a perfect spot for play house and the sturdy hooks on the inside of our eaves for stringed lights, perfect for Christmas. I told him that we have raised our two girls in the house and they loved every minute of it. He seemed satisfied and I invited him to knock on the door and my husband would gladly show him around inside. He thanked me for the offer but said he was happy to just linger a bit longer on the driveway. I told him to stay as long as he liked and I drove away, suddenly anxious to get my daughter to her class on time.
I have never forgotten Jim or his story and I can still see him standing in that driveway while I thought to myself, “Would I ever do such a thing?” On many occasions since my meeting with Jim I have shared with others where home was for me. It wasn’t the house Jim called home. It wasn’t the house I grew up in, either. It was a place I lived in 14 years prior and longed to return to. At that point, I figured I might possibly return to my home when I retired but nothing was certain and in fact, that time of my life was in complete turmoil and I held loosely to everything because nothing was very certain anymore. In the next couple years many things would become clearer as I healed from my wounds and was able to see how some of our most unexpected moments in life can turn us towards growth and homecoming.