They say home is where the heart is.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but my heart is inside my chest, next to the lungs and the ribs.

It isn’t necessarily the place you were born, since a lot of us are being born in a hospital these days, or the place you grew up in.  I moved around a lot as a kid, grew up in lots of places.  Home isn’t always the place you live now, either.

It’s a lot harder to define.  Apparently Dory will be looking for it in the upcoming Finding Dory movie.

In the last Fablehaven book, Brandon Mull wrote, “Some imagine the difference between heaven and hell to be a matter of geography.  Not so.  The difference is much more evident in the individuals who dwell there.”  I think that applies to homes as well as heavens–don’t parents aspire to make their homes a heaven for their families, or at least a haven?  So home can mean being with the people you love, who love you, so that wherever you actually are you feel comfortable.

What about those of us who can only take a certain amount of social interaction, even with our favorite people?  What about the people who can’t be with their loved ones?

Harry Potter thought of Hogwarts as his home, not because of the castle or the lake, but because it was a place where he was allowed to be himself without being called a freak.  Until it came out that he could talk to snakes, anyway.  The Doctor takes his TARDIS with him wherever he goes, so even if his home planet isn’t around anymore he still has a home of sorts.

I think a big part of a home is being able to feel safe.  Which makes even my own bed not at all homelike if there’s a spider in the room.

Have you ever felt homesick, even when you were at home?

I was a weird kid, and an even weirder teenager, and so even though my family was (and still is) pretty great, I thought about what a home was and what I considered home to be a lot.  I decided that I had many homes, though they were homes at varying levels.

There was the house where I lived with my family.

There was my grandparents’ house.

There were church buildings, which I love even if I don’t love big congregations.

There were the art classrooms at school.

There was my best friend’s house.

There was this bit of wild high mountain desert outside my neighborhood.

And even when I couldn’t get to those places or be with the people who helped make them homelike, I still carried home in my backpack, locked in the pages of a sketchbook.  I found home in making art, in hearing my favorite music, in stories, in peach ring candies and Starburst jelly beans and Star Wars.  I figured that any place could be homelike, with time.

I’m hoping that’s true of university campuses.  I’m definitely more at home than I was my first few weeks.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss home.

Maybe that’s part of being human, missing things.  Even if you can go back to the home you remember, it isn’t the same.  Either home’s changed or you’ve changed, or both in the case of Frodo Baggins and the Shire, and you have to adjust.  It would take some serious warping of spacetime to get you back to exactly the way things were before you left, and you’d lose all the things you’d gained in the leaving.


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