The only theme I can think of for this morning’s offering is that of ‘home’, and what it means to me. This is probably because I was ‘at home’ this weekend, by which I mean in my parents’ house, for a second weekend running; that hasn’t happened for a few years. I used to be the kind of dutiful daughter who would come home to her parents every weekend, but the last few years have seen some monumental changes in my life (husband, moving further away, etc.) so I don’t get ‘home’ very often.

On Saturday morning, just before we set off for my parents’, I told my husband that something I had to do that day could wait until I got home, and he gave me a funny look. I knew what was causing his disconcerted expression – the fact that I was standing in the kitchen of our home, talking about another place as being ‘home’. He knew what I meant, but I could see that he had a point! It’s hard for me to separate myself from my childhood home, and I feel a huge psychological connection to my parents, their home and the town in which I was raised. Sometimes I wonder if this connection is too strong, and if other people have such a tough, sinewy tie to their childhood – sometimes I feel like it’s just me. I do tend to feel very sentimental when I’m either coming to or going from my ‘home’town, and my husband used to be accustomed to me wiping away silent tears for about fifteen minutes after we’d driven away from my parents’ door. After a certain distance, I was able to recover myself and all would be well – until the next time we visited my parents, at least, when the whole sorry cycle would begin again. It’s only recently that I’ve started to realise it is possible to leave my parents’ house without weeping, and I’ve been doing very well on that front for the last while. It also occurred to me that it might not have been the most pleasant experience for my husband, having to drag his weeping wife away from the bosom of her parents’ loving embrace, and all that other melodramatic stuff – not that he ever gave me any hint that it was tough for him, but it must have been. So, I’m glad that the ties are starting to soften, just a little.

It’s difficult to create a home somewhere else when you still feel that, emotionally, your ‘home’ is where you grew up. It took me a long time to feel like the home I share with my husband was really home; as well as my attachment to my childhood, I was also used to living in a succession of rented houses, and my brain took ages to switch from the ‘this is temporary, not really your home’ mentality to ‘this is your forever home, you can be happy here.’ Perhaps part of it is not quite believing how lucky I am to have not one, but two (and three, if I count my husband’s parents’ home) places in which I can be at home, and places where I know I can relax and take refuge. I’m very aware that most people are not so lucky, and this is particularly so in modern Ireland where families are struggling to keep their roofs over their heads. Not that my husband and I don’t have to worry about money, of course, but we’re not in the danger that some people are in – something for which I am profoundly grateful.

It’s also true that the concept of ‘home’ is one of the most powerful themes in literature – and it’s certainly a theme in my WiP. For a story to work and be satisfying to a reader, you need a character who has a home, whether it be a perfectly satisfactory and loving home or a dysfunctional one, and this home either needs to be lost or destroyed or left behind in some way in order for a quest to start. Most of the time in traditional storytelling a story ends when a character finds another ‘home’ – one they’ve created themselves – and this new home replaces the one they lost or left early in the plot. The idea of marriage as a symbol for peace and completion (as well as entry to adulthood, and hence the right and responsibility to create your own home) is also one which features in storytelling – who would have thought marriage would be symbolic of anything? But there you are – apparently, it is. (If you’re interested in this idea, you could do worse than have a look at Derek Brewer’s book, ‘Symbolic Stories’ – it does have a medieval/Renaissance focus, but it’s very interesting. Honest!)

So, ‘home’ is a vital concept to us humans, whether it’s on the micro-level of our own lives and experience, or the macro-level of our culture as a whole. It means different things to different people and different cultural groups, of course – to me, it might mean ‘a brick building with windows and a door, in a particular location’, and to a nomadic tribeswoman it might mean ‘a clean supply of water and a place to tether the livestock, in no particular location,’ but the same feelings surround it. It’s more than just a place, it’s a state of mind. Everyone needs a place to feel safe, but I’m aware, of course, that so many people are denied this basic right. So, I’m very grateful for my home, and I hope that today is a happy day in your home, wherever it is you may live.

Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day.


7 thoughts on “Home

  1. Kate Curtis

    I have a home, and a… home. I still call both my own house and my parents’ house “home”. I do believe that it reflects happy memories and good times. My husband is used to it and works out which “home” I mean by context. Calling your old house “home” doesn’t lessen the meaning of home you have.
    I vividly remember the day we found “our house”. As we drove away from the viewing I experienced a kind-of joyful anxiety, “I really liked that house.” I said.
    He said, “Me too.”
    A moment’s silence.
    “I could call it home.” he said.
    I said, “Me too,”
    And we did.

    Happy home making – past and present.

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks – that’s a beautiful comment, and I really appreciate your time and thoughts. You’re right – it *is* a sign of good memories and happy times; I’ve had plenty of both, at home and at ‘home’. 🙂

      Have a lovely day and thanks for reading, and commenting.

  2. Sam Seudo

    Happy Monday (and Guy Fawkes Day!)
    I had a largely nomadic childhood, moving not only from city to city but also from country to country with my family. While it was an enriching experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything, it does mean that I don’t have particularly strong ties to any place. As much as I take pride in my “worldly” experiences, I do sometimes envy (though maybe that’s too strong a word) the deep connection most people have to the community in which they grew up. For me, home is my rented apartment or house wherever I happen to living right now. It provides me with a place to sleep, cook, have a little solitude when I need it….and, of course, write! The idea of putting down roots and taking on a permanent home actually scares me a little! 😀

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Happy Guy Fawkes’ Day to you too! I’d forgotten about that, which is ironic, given the rhyme goes ‘Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November…’ (Makes me want to watch ‘V for Vendetta’ tonight!) I’m glad to know you’re okay since Superstorm Sandy. Were you affected?

      Thanks for your thoughts on the blog post. It’s interesting to read the other side of the coin! I can’t imagine not having a permanent home – I would feel completely at sea without knowing there was always somewhere I could go, unquestionably, and be safe. I guess that limits my spontaneity somewhat! I admire your free spirit, though – but I worry too much, about everything, not to have a permanent base. 🙂

      1. Sam Seudo

        I was actually thinking about this at work yesterday. Someone mentioned that I’m getting to the point in my career when people usually start settling down wherever they are, and it made me want to run for the hills! 😀 As for Sandy, I live in Rhode Island, which fortunately was spared any major damage. Thanks for asking!

  3. aanderand

    I was very much touched by today’s post, especially about your high regard for your childhood home. I think I have mentioned before that I had an ‘unsettled childhood’ as I now like to call it, so there is no one physical home I can point to, rather it is the family of my childhood I thought of as being ‘home’. It was always a divisive factor in my marriage, my wife felt jealous and threatened by my close ties to my childhood family, partially because she did not have the same close bond with hers. There are so many things I would do over if I had the chance but one would be to make sure she felt like I held our family in the highest regard. I really did but I know she never felt that to be the case. The odd thing is that she had a single home while growing up but they never developed the bond of a family and she never really cared to go back.
    All that is water under the bridge. My home now is here in Georgia with my daughter and her husband and the wonderful grandkids. If they were to go some place else, which almost happened last year, I would follow them. I guess I have to say for me home truly is where the heart is.

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks, Rand – as always, your comment is heartfelt and very meaningful. I’m glad you’ve found a happy home with your family, and reading your comment, I’m reminded that it’s always more important to be attached to people, rather than things or places. Thank you, as ever, for sharing your thoughts with me, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.


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