Being a worrier all the way back to the womb, I used to panic over remembering my address as a young child after the D.A.R.E. officer came to my first grade classroom to warn us about the evils of the world. He left us with these keys to success for life: Don’t do drugs, say “NO!” to strangers and always know your address and phone number in the event you become lost. But here was the rub – I DIDN’T KNOW MY ADDRESS. For the love of all that is holy, how would I EVER get home again?!? To calm my anxious fears, my mother was kind enough to help me practice spouting my address on command for the rest of the week… which is why I can still snap it off of my tongue without a second thought. 2735 North Woodhaven. Done. Oh, and I can tell you my phone number from that era too, it corresponds with the Empire Carpet commercial jingle. It’s catchy.
Home has always been important to me, like most people in the world. But lately, and especially this summer, I have found myself continually ruminating on what exactly constitutes home. Because I am always throwing that word about. In the last six years of my life “home” has been used in reference to Minnesota, Illinois, California and New York. Yikes, I think I even referred to our hotel room in Las Vegas as home at one point. Apparently, home is a very flexible thing for me. Or maybe it is a bit deeper in that home is actually my people; existing where my siblings are, my parents, my in-laws, my friends. Which is actually a wonderful concept. Home can be anywhere you are loved and welcomed.
But home also became more apparent to me this summer during the weeks my boy was living in Baltimore. Now, this is not the first time his career path has taken us far away from one another for more than a small handful of days. And I fully realize that there are some people in love who must go years without seeing one another. But I only have my own experiences. And this go around, it hit me harder. Maybe it is because I am still finding myself in this large, teaming city. Maybe it is because I was in transition with a new job. But for whatever reason, I felt physically injured for most of the time he was away. Maimed in some way that I could not quite articulate.
And then it hit me that as my boy and I have grown in our marriage, our partnership, our friendship, he has become my main home. Home is now a person for me. And yes, all of my people sprinkled about the world will continue to be my secondary homes, but my boy will forever be my main one.
Home is now his dirty scrubs on the tiny floor of our bedroom. It is being called “lovebug” or “babes” or “gorgeous” or anything else other than my name. Because it freaks me out when he says “Hey Annie…” after years of other endearments. Home is rolling over in bed at night in a huff because he keeps breathing on my face in his sleep, but secretly loving that he is simply there beside me. Home is laughing together at Miss Bianca as she sits like a gremlin with her paunch hanging out and her paws daintily crossed. It is giggling into the night over nothing with total disregard of the fact that we have to get up in a few hours of time. Home is our 13×30 foot apartment that feels perfectly cozy because we share it together – oh, and it helps that we sold EVERYTHING WE OWNED before moving in last year. Home is ordering pizza and walking in the park. It is squabbling over the price of toilet paper per square sheet because I am the delinquent in the family who doesn’t really care about those details. It is watching 30 Rock reruns and sleeping late on our few days off together.
Home is where we are and where he is. Over the years of our affair, our physical home has been a Mexican hut (long story), a ridiculously large house that we never really furnished, a car last summer for a few weeks, a hotel and now a cupboard of an apartment. But I have loved it all because it is home.
I am so glad that home came home to me this summer.
(And oh gosh, I have turned into a backwoods hillbilly dead set on crocheting a sampler proclaiming my belief that “Home is where the heart is.” Where has my sarcasm gone?)