I am writing at my desk in the study. I know my husband is channel hopping in the family room, as I hear snippets of AFL post match commentaries, the English leg of the Tour de France, and very brief moments of Wimbledon (one or two thuds of a tennis ball being struck followed quickly by a change of the channel – much to my disappointment, tennis is one of the few sports he has little interest in watching). I have checked and my two children are sleeping soundly in their beds and I am hopeful that this will continue. I feel my dog moving at my feet, snuffling as she dozes. I am at home.
When I think about home, I visualise my house. I see the drawings by my children made lining the walls. I picture my favourite chair and imagine snuggling into it with a book (and there is a big pile to choose from at the moment!). I remember the well maintained garden that I have had and am reminded that it has not quite looked like that for a while and I better get back out there and tidy it up again. Furnishings, window frames, display items we’ve collected on holidays – I see them all in my mind. Elements that have memories embedded in them. Things.
When I think about being at home, rather than home itself, though, there is a shift. I imagine friends coming over – or going to see them. I remember times when where my husband and kids are playing games together or cracking jokes that somehow hit that sweet spot that we all find funny (these times are to be treasured let me tell you – I had no idea how many unfunny ‘jokes’ kids can tell over and over and …I digress). I sense the peace that I feel when I am chatting with my grandmother, sharing stories and knitting our history together. I think of our upcoming trip to Europe and the times we will be with my sister-in-law and her family. I think of people. Sometimes I think about being on my own, content with my own company and the stillness that accompanies it. But I generally don’t associate any physical components to these thoughts. I may have a vague sense of warmth – maybe the soft glow of a lamp perhaps, or the gentleness of spring sunshine – but I could be located anywhere. I shift from seeing things to experiencing emotions. Feelings rather than places or things.
I’ve often wondered about people who are comfortable changing homes frequently, through choice or circumstance. That has not been my choice – I am a very settled person, and although I do sometimes get itchy feet, I often manage to ignore the itch long enough that it goes away. But I do wonder. I wonder if these people can comfortably pick up stumps because they place more importance on feeling at home, wherever that might be? Do they place more importance on who they are with and what they are experiencing than what they have? If so, that could be a great way to be. Things are wonderful and significant and comfortable. However, they are only things. To feel at home wherever you are – that is a gift. But possibly one I am not ready for – I do treasure many of my things!
How about you? What does home, and feeling at home, mean to you? Are you a home body, or do you enjoy the reinvention of moving and changing your home?