Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Home, Sweet Home

One afternoon when I was an "emo" university student (whole decades before the term "emo" was coined), I lay in a patch of afternoon sun on the living room floor of the house I shared with four three other girls, and I listened to Lene Lovich singing:

Home is where the heart is, home is so remote
Home is just emotion sticking in my throat
Let's go to your place
Let's go to your place
It perfectly captured my mood. The home I'd grown up in, and where my parents and younger sister still lived, no longer felt like "home" to me. It was a place I avoided or visited when I felt guilty that I'd been neglecting my family too long.

But there was no other place to supplant it. The house I shared was just that: a house. We were transient friends. In an emotional sense, I was homeless.

I went "home" that Christmas. It was kind of a disaster that ended with my being "kicked out" and "running away" at the same time. [Sort of like saying, "You can't fire me! I quit!"] Lots of drama. I cut my visit short.

A day or two after returning to the house I shared, Steve, who was then a "friend of the household," not really dating anyone, but always welcome to join us for a meal or crash on our couch whenever military dorm life got too oppressive, walked in our front door. My heart just leapt! I jumped over the various bicycles, boots and brooms that crowded our hallway and gave him a great big hug.

I couldn't have told you why I was so glad to see him, but I remember that it felt like something had slid into place.

No, we didn't start dating, though he did ask - who could blame him?

Some months later, however, we did go on a sort of pretend date: it wasn't romantic, but it was just the two of us, and we both knew it was a special occasion. I gave him a teddy bear (which we still have) and actually made a home-cooked meal. (Shake 'n' Bake, if you must know.)

[Have I already told you this story? Stop me if I have. It's a favourite of mine, so I often drag it out and force our children to listen to it.]

Later that evening, alone in the house, Steve sat at a desk studying Physics while I read Victorian literature. I glanced up and saw him down the hall. He must have felt me looking at him and smiled at me. I can still see his face like a snapshot.

And I thought, "Yes. I could handle seeing this for the rest of my life."

[Are you sure I haven't told you? I'm sure I have.]

Looking back, I think those two moments mark the beginning of when Steve became my home: a place of comfort, acceptance, and nurturing.

Maybe that's why being a nomadic military family hasn't been so hard on me: my home is not location-based, it is relationship-based. In any case, I am very happy to have my home, sweet home.

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