Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Home is Where You Hang Your Hat

"Your mother's birthday is coming up soon."
"I know."
"It's a big one. She'll be 65."
"Oh. Really."
"I think you should come home. Check your calendar to see if you can fly down one weekend in August."
"Uh. [pause] OK."
"We'll keep it a secret. Here's your mother."

Home. What is home? How do we as individuals define our home? Is it where we grew up? Where our parents live? Where we live?

Every time one of my parents asks me to come "home," I want to say to them, "I am HOME!" I love where I live. I love my cute little co-op. I love being by the park. I love living so close to the District. I've lived here longer than I've lived anywhere in my life (rapidly approaching 7 years in the DC/Metro Area). This area is my home.

So, when my parents refer to their house as my home, I feel insulted, like they consider where I live now to be a temporary place, a blip on the long road of my existance, like their house will always be my home until I'm married (ha!) with 2.1 children (ha!) and living in a house with a white picket fence (ha!) and an SUV in the garage (ha!).

My parents' house is in Waynesville, NC. They've lived there for less time than I've lived here. I only know a few other people in the town. I don't know fun places to go or interesting places to eat. I have no connection to it at all. Yet, their house is "home." Mine is merely a house.

I suppose I'm making a mountain out of a homehill though. It's probably habit, something they are used to saying. Eventually, they will realize that their house isn't my home. And, then I can stop mentally screaming at them.


  1. Yes, no offense, but I think you're perhaps making a _bit_ too much of an innocent word choice. It's just an expression. What would you rather they said -- "Check your calendar to see if you can come to the town in which we live and stay with us as our guest"? ;) Look at it this way -- it's nice that they at least consider their home still yours. Not all "adult children" have that.

    That said, the question "what is home" is eternally fascinating and valid! And you're right -- where you live now is your true home if that's how it feels to you.

  2. Definitely an interesting question... I almost still think of Charlottesville as home sometimes, I lived there for 16 years. Of course I've lived in DC for 14 now... wow. I guess I do think of my little condo as home.

  3. My home is feeling less and less like a home every passing day, and I've been here off and on 31 years :)

    I don't think the expression means much. perhaps an alternate way of interpretion is "can you come to our home?"

  4. They'll never stop. And they are doing it to insult you. They know it's not your home! My mom doesn't ask me to come "home," she asks me to come to her house.

  5. Oh, please. "Doing it to insult you"? By inviting you "home"? I don't think so. Okay, maybe not respecting your autonomy and the fact that you have your own home, but doing it _in order to_ insult you? I just don't buy that. (Jeez, my bout of opinionatedness is lasting longer than I thought!)

  6. home is where the heart is. and your big hairy pussy.

    and why does one have to have "a" home? i think of south texas as home. philadelphia is another home. sometimes dc is home. for me, it wherever i feel welcome.

    why am i thinking of adam haslett's story you are not a stranger here. it's about being known in place you don't always expect.

  7. It pisses me off when my folks do that too. It wasn't "home" for me when I lived there, so there's the bitter tang of irony to the whole thing.

    They'll still refer to it as your home even if you go off to form your own family, though. Out of habit, or affection, or denial, depending. For most people it's usually not a sign of anything worse than mild neurosis on their part.

    You know, I haven't thought much about the idea of what I call my "home". Hmm...

  8. When I lived with my parents they moaned at me non-stop that I treated it as a hotel! No wonder I went on the road and have travelled the world since! I'm now "at home" every night!

    Good points made by everyone on this subject, it really is an interesting question. Good on ya Vuboq! But seriously -

    I feel at home at:
    My parents house
    Nottingham, UK
    Houston, Texas
    Belle-Aire, France
    Santorini and Cyprus, Greek islands
    Brisbane, Aus

    And believe me, I've been many, many more places, but those listed are the ones that, so far, I've always felt truly at home in. Also notice Parents house at top.

    "Feeling at home" is not so much about the location you're in, but the people that surround you perhaps? (duh!)

    I'll get of my soap box now. Sorry!