My mom used to tell me "home is where you go when you have no place else" (paraphrasing). So where do you go when you don't have a home to go back to?
Being homeless need not mean living under a damp newspaper on the street corner. Being homeless need not mean eating at a soup kitchen downtown or sleeping in the front seat of your car night after night. Being homeless, in the simplest terms, means just what the word suggests: homeless~ without home.
What defines a home? My guess is that, if asked, 100 people would give 100 different responses to this single question. The answer to the question of "home" will vary from person to person based on that individual's life experiences, current circumstances, geographical location, etc. I, myself, have been thinking on this question quite a bit lately. I've been trying to narrow down what my definition of ‘home' is. What I have come to find is that there is not one single, narrowed-down answer that sums it all up for me.
Home is so much more than a definition. Home is a feeling. It's a more than a place or location. It's a sense. Home is an extension. It is an expression. Home is as personal and specific to each and every one of us as our eye color or the clothes that we wear.
A home doesn't have to be accompanied by a deed with your name on it. Even living in a rental you can still feel that connection to your dwelling as a home. It holds a certain value as the place you can run to when you need to hide from the rest of the world. It is the place you return to when you have no place left to go. Home represents hope and restoration. You can curl up on your couch, in your front room and sulk, snuggle or just laugh with your husband and children. You can do all of these things freely and without consequence. There are no expectations in your space.
Within the walls of our homes we are free to be our real selves. There are no fronts or airs necessary when you are in a space that you have created to suit your own needs. We all wear different faces for different aspects of our lives: work, school, motherhood, family, and friends. When you walk through the door of your home you get to shed that exterior and strip down to your very base self. When an outsider steps across the thresh hold of our homes they get to see the ‘real' us. The pictures, the paintings, the dishes and furniture~ these are all forms of personal expression that we share via our homes, without judgment.
I'm not a materialistic person, by any means. I have come to realize, however, that all of the ‘worldly' possessions that we collect throughout our lifetimes represent a certain kind of purpose and achievement. Even if we choose to live a simple lifestyle, without many material possessions, this still shows purpose and achievement. Everything that we collect or don't shows us for who we are and what we feel and how we choose to pursue our dreams and goals in life.
Being able to open our doors to a loved one in need can stimulate us. It can help us connect to others on a human level and remind us that we are worthwhile and capable. There is peace in inviting a friend over for a cup of coffee or tea. There is joy in sharing a lovingly prepared meal with a guest just because it's ready and available. Allowing another human being a glimpse of who we are and what we represent is liberating and enlightening. It is empowering.
Sharing the love and emotion that you have painted into every nook and cranny of your own private little piece of the world is one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever encountered. To know when another person leaves your space, they are leaving with the best of what you have to offer the world ~ your true self~ is a feeling that cannot be replicated or replaced.
By the same measure, there is an unmistakable sense of security that goes hand in hand with having the option of not allowing another person into your world. The realization and acceptance that you have a right to privacy (and the choice to retain that privacy) grants an almost euphoric sense of personal freedom. Our home is our sanctuary and choice is a glorious thing.
These are just some of the observations that run through my mind when I ponder the question of ‘home'. The list is no where near complete and I am sure that there are many, many more concepts of home buried in my psyche somewhere just out of reach. For now, however, I must bring these ramblings to a close.
"Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other. It is the place of confidence. It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts. It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule." ~Frederick W. Robertson