Sunday, January 4, 2009

Going Home

I 'went home' for the holidays with my family. But what is 'home'. In that context, it typically means the residence of ones childhood. For me, that is a ranch style house built in 1961 on a former corn farm in rural North Dakota. There is the house with its deck that my dad built surrounded by shelter belts we cultivated against our will as children and grain storage bins that hold the grain raised by renters now. Specific familiar things. Last year, my mother was in a nursing home after a surgery but we based ourselves out of the house at the farm anyway. It was technically 'home' but without any parents there, it did not feel much like home. It was a house, a convenience, a shelter from the weather with a refrigerator for keeping the Mountain Dews cold and beds for keeping our bodies warm while sleeping between visits to the people that matter. In January, when I went to visit my mother in the nursing home, I based myself out of her condo where she spends winters. Because I was only a few minutes from her room at the nursing home, that place at that time felt more like 'home' than the farmhouse had a month earlier. Even though it has no history to me as a childhood home, her things were there and I knew she would return to that place soon. This visit, when the farmhouse, the actual residence of my childhood, was closed up, we based ourselves out of my mother-in-law's house, and again, though I have no history actually living there, it felt more homelike than the empty farmhouse. All this leads me to believe that is it so much less about the place than it is about the people. 'Home' can be anywhere, as long as you are with people who you love and with people who love you back.

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