Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Home Sweet Home

After two months spent living out of suitcases, we're so very, very happy to be home!

I can't help but contrast this homecoming to our initial arrival in Virginia, almost a year ago to date. Tropical, sticky summer heat, no friends, long days alone where we struggled to find our way around and anxiety attacks about the new school.

This year our homecoming includes sleepovers, kids who've missed mine, running through the neighborhood in the dark, texts and plans to meet girlfriends, book group and writers' group and the ability to find the grocery store without taking ANY wrong turns.

And yet, when I stop to think about it, we were equally at home in France.

I still have friends who date back to the days when I lived there. The language returned easily and soon my children were running to the corner boulangerie and ordering our morning baguette without me. We walked the neighborhoods of Paris and decided that, yes, this could feel like home too.

After France we were in Portland, greeted by a Mid-Summer's Eve party thrown in our honor and a wealth of friends.

Without a doubt, Portland feels like home, even though we're not living there.

Friendships picked up as though the gap in time was a week instead of a year. Traditions carried on seamlessly and for almost a month we slipped back into our former Oregon lives. 

We talked about it on the east bound plane, carrying us from one home to another.

"Portland will always be home, right?" asked my daughter.

"Yes, of course," I told her.

"But it also feels like home is in McLean."

Home, we decided, isn't necessarily a fixed place. Instead it's a state of mind, a place where there are people you love, community and familiarity.

For the moment, home is wherever our family is together, but soon (sooner than I want to think about) home might mean a college dorm room or a foreign city where my children know no one at all.

When that time comes, I'm hoping our nontraditional definition will give my kids the tools to magically transform unfamiliar settings into places that take on all the trappings of home.

Since clearly I'm on the subject, I hope each one of you had a magical summer and are equally happy to be home, wherever and however you define it.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Welcome back, Johanna!
As a military brat, I've lived all over, and no one place feels like home except for where I live now. And that's probably the best attitude to take - home is where you are right now.

Beylit said...

We didn't really move when I was growing up (at least when I was old enough to remember) so the idea that home wasn't a fixed place didn't set in until I was well into college. I remember how horribly home sick I got at first when I was stuck in my dorms over the first long weekend while all my new friends went home.
Now I can call so many places home because of the wealth of friendship and love I have in so many places.

Glad you had a fantastic summer and glad you are back.

Dianne Salerni said...

What a wonderful summer you had and an amazing lesson for your children in what "home" really means!

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds amazing! Other than university, I've only lived in one city :)
Home really is all about the heart and not the setting!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Now that's a summer of adventure.

Salem felt like home for many years after I left. I think after we moved to Albuquerque, it stated to lose that feel.

Mark Koopmans said...

Aloha, and as they say on that home makeover show: "welcome home, Garth family, welcome home."

I would only add, "...Wherever you lay your hat."

Your kids are *very* lucky to have you as an open-minded to travelling Mom :)

Bon voyage in advance of the next trip :)

TL Cooper said...

I think if we all expanded our definition of home as you describe, perhaps we'd find greater connection with the world around us, not just with our immediate communities but with the communities beyond our comfort zone. Maybe then we'd really understand that every place on Earth is home to some living being... Just a thought your post lead me to, so I thought I'd share...

Naida said...

Welcome back! Yes, home is definitely where the heart is and where the people you love are. What a wonderful life lesson to teach your children as well.

Joanne Noragon said...

Home truly is a state of mind and a spirit your children are finding.
How did the hamsters like their summer?

Johanna Garth said...

Alex, good advice from someone who's moved lots!

Beylit, we did and it's sooo good to be back.

Dianne, that's what I'm hoping. We'll see if the lesson stuck!

Mark, why thank you. I'll remind them of that the next time they bemoan their parental fate.

TL, that's a lovely thought and I'm guessing there's a lot of truth to it.

Joanne, we're down to one I guess maybe the summer wasn't as good for them!

Jemi, it's a lesson I'm still learning.

Diane, certain places I've lived have faded with the home feeling, but others always welcome me back.

Thanks Naida!

ilima said...

I love this. Home can be several places, and it's the people that make it. Just like doesn't matter if you're together or apart. You're still family no matter what. Welcome home! said...

Welcome home! Having many homes makes one many times blessed.

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Johanna! Welcome back! : )

PK Hrezo said...

Oh how marvelous for you!! I can imagine how much you missed OR. I miss it and I've only been once. lol
East coast is so very different.
I could easily live in France too. The food and wine is unparalleled IMO.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I think it'd be fun to live in Paris, because then I'd go to the cafes where Hemingway and other writers wrote in and write in the company of their ghosts. :) I think home is where you feel happiest and free and where you feel comfortable being yourself.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Seems like forever since I've stopped by your blog. Part of it was you were gone and part of it has been my own time off--which WAS suppose to be my summer of fun. Not to say I haven't had fun but somehow so many other things have gotten in the way. Isn't that always the way?

Glad you had a great time with family and friends. We moved a lot being military and then Dad working construction--plus the parental units had a wandering foot and a great need for adventure. We lived in many places. I still have friends in many places. was always where the family was at the time. Not a place but the family unit made it home. I have favorite areas of the country altho Maryland/DC area was a place we came back to the most--home base if you will--home STILL is where my family is. :-)

Sia McKye Over Coffee

jaybird said...

Great post! Great big welcome back. I have always felt the same way- no matter where we were or what house we were in, as long as my family was together, that was home.

A Beer For The Shower said...

Home is most definitely a state of mind, and so long as I was with family, I've felt at home in other continents too. They're truly what make us feel safe and content. Sounds like it was an awesome trip - welcome back!

Jan Morrison said...

I'm in my forty-third home! We still have a home in Prospect, Nova Scotia. Home is a state of mind. It might not be where I hang my hat, but more where I rest my heart - for a time.