The Journey Home

Have you ever thought about how many stories, songs and themes revolve around the concept of home, and finding your way home?

The theme of “The Wizard of Oz” is summed up by Dorothy when she said, “there’s no place like home.” In “The Grapes of Wrath,” the family took to their car (their only home during the Great Depression) to seek a new home in California. The movie “Beautiful Girls” sees Timothy Hutton going home for his high school reunion. In my favorite television show, “The Killing,” the main character realizes that home was not a place; but was the feeling she had with the person who knew her best.

It’s nearly impossible to count the number of songs that speak to this theme. There’s “Homeward Bound” (Simon and Garfunkel), “Two of Us” (The Beatles), “You’re My Home” (Billy Joel), and “My Way Back Home” (Dawes), just to name a few. And let’s not forget the famous adages: “Home is where the heart is,” or “home is a state of mind.”

All these references and themes make me wonder if we have all — at some point or another — tried to figure out where we belong, and where home actually exists.

I’ve thought a lot about the concept of home and that journey toward it over the last year. For nearly all my life, San Diego was home. It was the place I grew up, where my family lives, and where I made a life for myself. And then I left it all behind when we moved to Indiana to — literally — make a life and home in a new city, state and house.

One of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve had in my life was driving four days across country, away from San Diego and toward Terre Haute. There was something incredibly freeing about knowing that all I had was the open road ahead and what was in the car with me. Even if I wanted to turn back, there was not a home to go back to (in the general sense). Our belongings were gone and the people and pets that mattered most to me were not there anymore. I don’t remember ever feeling that unconfined in my entire life — there was no going backwards; only forward, to a new idea of home.

We’ve been in Indiana going on nine months, and I’ve come to find that my core feels home. Not necessarily because of the physical structure I live in (but that helps too). It’s because my state-of-mind is here. I belong in this place — both physical and mental — with everything that symbolizes home to me.

But what has also solidified for me the idea that I’m home is how much has changed in the life I left behind. The home we lived in for 11 years does not have any resemblance of us. It’s occupied by someone else. Friends that I was close to in San Diego have also left to start life elsewhere. Restaurants we frequented every week have closed their doors. The elementary school we attended for three years has lost teachers and community members.

These observations are not meant to be depressing. They’re just symbolic of change and how life moves on, even if you’re not there. They’ve helped me realize that for me, home is not where I’m from; it’s where I am.

So what is home to me?

It’s the place where I am at peace, with myself and my surroundings. It’s where I feel calm. Home is the family I surround myself with each day, and the pets that follow me from room to room. It’s the few treasured items on my bookshelves and the music that plays while I write on this blog. And I know now, more than ever, that I am home.

“I admit that these answers that I seek
Are all to questions I’ve never known
But I pray to keep on looking for as long as I can roam
And when the world finally fulfills me
I will not forget my way back home.”

— Dawes (“My Way Back Home”)

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