What Does HOME Really Mean? {Part 1}

“They could revisit all the old sites — the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Greektown, the DIA, the Ren Cen, Belle Isle — just as they’d done when David was a boy. He thought of these places, embedded in his memory…” ~ Scott Lasser, SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT DETROIT.

I’ve always been a multi-reader. So I suppose it’s not unusual for me to be reading WALKING THE BIBLE by Bruce Feiler and Victor Hugo’s LES MISERABLES, and still feel the urge to begin reading another book. I suffer from MBRD {Multiple Book Reading Disorder}. In this case, the book is SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT DETROIT, written by Scott Lasser. A visit to our local Barnes & Noble bookstore a few weeks ago (on a quest to find books for our grandchildren), resulted in my zoning in on the word DETROIT. Detroit is my hometown.

But what does HOME really mean?

I was caught off-guard when I ventured to look up the definition of HOME. The word sounds so simple and, yet, its definition is complex and contemplative. HOME — it is a shelter or dwelling: like a house on Waldo Street. It is a place or region: Detroit, or Michigan, or America. It is a mark you can aim at, or drive to: hit, or drive, it home. It is the center of operations for a team: home plate; the home stretch. It is a desired position: sails sheeting home, or to anchor towards home.

HOME — it is both tangible and intangible. It is a location: an apartment; or somewhere deep within the heart. You can be guided towards home, or provided with a home, or return home. It is a familiar situation: it felt like home. It can be a hearth or an asylum: at home; in a home. It’s a state of being: to be home free. You can write home. You can write about home.  You can even marry it: Heim {German} = Home {English}.

I have always thought of Detroit as HOME. Yet, the reality is that I have lived in Southern California longer than I lived in Detroit. I have lived here since I was fifteen-years-old. Perhaps the real meaning of home has more to do with growing into it than being in it. HOME is a lot like the Kingdom of God — you may not be able to see it or touch it, but you know it exist. “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight,“ (2 Corinthians 5:6). Home is a knowing.

“…the French had founded [Michigan], leaving place-names  [like Detroit] mispronounced all over the state.” ~ Scott Lasser

Detroit in and of itself is just another big, metropolitan, city. Waldo Street and the house on it, where I grew up, is just another street and house in the city proper. None of these make it home. HOME is the scent of lilacs, like that of the bush that grew in the backyard of the house on Waldo Street. The aroma of kielbasa and pierogies wafting on the air. The sound of polka music that would filter out onto the street from the corner hall, where a wedding reception was taking place. A store, a bar, or a church on every corner. Basements, attics, and porches.

Sliding boots through icy alleys in the winter. Playing hopscotch on the sidewalks in spring. Riding bicycles and slurping on blue Popsicles in the summer. Freshly sharpened pencils and knitted scarves in the fall. It’s neighbors known by name and not separated by ethnicity. It’s seasons defined by sports, as well as by weather: Football, Basketball, Hockey, Baseball. HOME is remembering.

HOME is a single thought wired with memories. It’s a knowing with all of your senses. It’s a remembering of a time and the people who filled it. HOME, like faith, is within. HOME is like Shel Silverstein’s THE GIVING TREE, its memories the roots that lead away from and back to it.

Wether you grew up in a house in the city, and remained there through your adult years — or you moved from apartment to apartment, in different cities or states, throughout your childhood — HOME is really never far, it’s wherever YOU are. Whoever said that you can never go home again, had it all wrong. You can go back home — over and over again.

Though sometimes, I’ll admit, home can remain disjointed and elusive depending on how you were uprooted, moved, and transplanted. That, dear friends, is a pondering best left for your next visit.

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