What Does HOME Really Mean? {Part 2}

“’When summer warms the hanging fruit
and burns the berry brown; When straw is gold, and ear is white,
and harvest comes to town;
When honey spills, and apple swells,
though wind be in the West,
I’ll linger here beneath the Sun,
because my land is best!

‘Together we will take the road
that leads into the West,
And far away will find a land
where both our hearts may rest.’”

~ Song of the Ents

 HOME is like Shel Silverstein’s THE GIVING TREE; its memories the roots that lead away from and back to it.

Just as a tree can wither and die if care is not taken in transplanting it, the idea of HOME  can remain disjointed and elusive if you were abruptly uprooted, moved, and transplanted in foreign soil.

If you want to transplant a tree, you must take care to do so correctly and with care. You must:

  • Wait until the tree is dormant before moving.
  • Select a space where your tree will thrive and grow.
  • Secure the root ball intact.
  • Protect the roots during transport.
  • Make sharp and clean cuts in the root system to prevent further damage, and allow the roots to extract nutrients from the surroundings.
  • Plant it as deep in the new location as it was in the old.
  • The sooner the tree is re-planted, the better its chances for survival.

It should be of no surprise then, that a tree that has been uprooted hastily and relocated in unfamiliar soil will take longer to adapt and bloom.

“We Ents cannot hold back this storm. We must weather such things as we have always done.” ~ Treebeard, Lord of the Ents

I boarded an airplane in August of 1971 to come and live in California with my paternal grandmother. It was both exciting and scary. Very scary. I was alone. I was, by all accounts at the time, an orphan. My father had died the previous year. My stepmother had never legally adopted me. And, although my paternal grandmother had visited us a few times, she was virtually a stranger – but she was family and that’s all that matter at the time.  My life was in the midst of a storm and I had to weather it.

My transplanting was hasty, secretive, and permanent. I knew that then and it is only now, in the autumn of my life, that the shock my young roots experienced, has finally subsided, allowing my roots to relax and take hold. Forty-one years.

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,

For as you were when first your eye I eyed,

Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold

Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,

Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn’d

In process of the seasons have I seen,

Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn’d,

Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.

~ Shakespeare (Sonnet 104)

In recent years, thanks to advanced technology and social networks like Facebook, I’ve been able to reconnect with old friends. Good friends. Friends from my childhood in Detroit and friends I met in high school during my first years in California. Friends that my young roots had to let go of too soon. Friends those same young roots could not yet grasp and hold on tight enough to, because they were weak and knotted. Friends, who are now in the “yellow autumn” of their lives, but yet, to me, are still as “fresh” and “green” as they were in the spring of my life.

HOME is a finding. Finding the missing pieces, finding the connection between two loose ends, finding what the heart has lost, finding all that would make the broken whole. In the finding, we find HOME.

Talking about your past is not the same as listening to someone talk about their past with you in it. Remembering your childhood, or your teenhood, is not the same as hearing someone else remember theirs and recalling that you were there with them. Memories are validated when someone else tells their story and you are a part of it. HOME is a sharing.

“Yes, the sparrow has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.” ~ Psalm 84:3

It is said that wherever a bird builds her nest in the spring, she will return to that spot every year. What was once a new nesting place has become, over seasons, familiar and comfortable. I still miss the changing of weather when one season rolls into another. I still yearn for quiet moments by the lake. I still long for snow crunching under my feet and a winter pond with ice ripe for skating. And, yet, now that my circle of friends is complete with both old and new, I’m no longer torn.  HOME is a settling.

I am home when I make sandwiches with Pumpernickel bread, or stuffed cabbage for dinner. I am home when I eat crunchy tacos at El Kiosko in Rialto, CA. I am home when sitting and watching a triple-header of Tigers, Lions, and Red Wings, oh my! I am home when I am in sitting in the stands at an Angels game. I am home when I am hanging out with childhood friends in one of their basements on a winter’s night in Livonia, Michigan. Or having dinner with my bff’s-from-the-block in their homes, in Macomb Township and Chicago respectively. Or spending the night with a dear friend, camped out on an air-mattress in her den, in Ohio. HOME is Applegate, Ann Arbor, Novi, and Royal Oak, Michigan — places that were also a part of my youth. HOME is Rancho Cucamonga, California. HOME is sitting near the Christmas tree and watching the snow fall outside. HOME is a bonfire on the beach on Christmas Day. HOME, as it turns out, is so much bigger than the word.

So while Detroit will always have a special place in my heart – indeed be a part of the blood that runs through my veins, because it IS my hometown – Southern California, here and now, is my home. Yes, HOME is a growing into.

What, or where, is HOME for you?

How many generations does it take to grow a HOME?

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