If you’re writing about Love and a Sense of Place, doesn’t Home have to come in there somewhere? I thought so. That’s why I wrote this story. It took me a long, long time to feel at home anywhere. I don’t think I’m unique in that — especially in a world where people are moving here and there and everywhere all the time. I always envied folks who knew in their soul of souls where they belonged and where they called “home”. But we each have to get there in our way and in our own time. And when we do — home truly is wherever your heart is.
Love and that Sense of Place
I felt like I had been searching for home as long as Neil had been traipsing around looking for that illusive golden heart of his. I kept searching because I always believed that when I found home I would find love, happiness, peace and maybe even that pot of gold.
I used to always think that home was that old house at 2782 in Columbus, Ohio. I spent my first 18 years there and some of my siblings still live in it. Even the doorknobs are the same ones that I remember not being able to reach when I was two. Doesn’t that kind of longevity count a lot towards a place being called “home”? Every year, folks would say to me, no matter where I was, “Hey, Ann, are you going home for the holidays?” and I knew where they meant. But every time I did go to that “home,” I felt lonely. It was so familiar and peopled by my sweet brothers and sisters but how could it be “home” if I felt sad that I didn’t belong there anymore. But, then, I’d feel even sadder when I went back to where I was living and knew that that wasn’t home either?
I thought my lack of connectedness was because I didn’t have any deep, sustaining roots anywhere. Any gardener knows that it takes time and care and fertilizer to establish those roots so that a plant survives. All those years I spent travelling in Europe, I was pulling mine up every three or six months, moving from one country to the next. Those little roots never had a chance no matter how I tried to connect with the places I lived. Even in Spain where I had my own first-ever house in Benidoleig, I knew I wasn’t home. My friends there would say to me, “Ana, tu eres de Estados Unidos, pero tu corizon es de Espana.” I was touched by their love and their invitation to belong, but I knew it wasn’t true. Whenever I went there, the first few days, I would walk down the streets and people would smile and kiss both my cheeks and say welcome home. But after a week or so, I was restless, ready to go back — but where? I spent more time in Washington than anywhere else, but Washington is a city of short-rooted people which makes them wary of forming too close of ties and hunkering down and staying put.
When I moved here, to Toronto, I thought briefly that “married” life would surely guarantee 100% that I would be home. Wasn’t that the un-said part of those vows? But it didn’t — at least not that marriage. When it ended, one of my brothers asked me when I was coming “home.” What could possibly keep me in Canada now? I flippantly joked with him that there were two words that kept me here — Health Care. But there was something more that I couldn’t put into words but that I knew was here. Luckily, I was wise enough to just leave my roots intact right where I had planted them that hot August day six years before.
Then, I don’t know how or what day or hour or week but somehow those roots took and sprouted into home. I was now Home. It took a whole lifetime — or 60 some years — of looking here and there and everywhere when it was right here within me all the time. It was there at 2782 and in Spain and even in short-rooted DC. I just had to trust and love it enough to see. (Maybe I should tell Neil?) I expected my search to end with fireworks and a big Alleluia chorus but it didn’t.
I think this place called home for me is the quiet hum of contentedness. I feel it every time I walk into my apartment and see all the things there that tell the story of my journey to find home. (The cats believe that they are the story but they would, wouldn’t they?) It’s making soup and sharing it with Len, and it’s there when I walk down Major Street and see neighbours or see my pool pals on Sunday morning or hear Beth say Holy Kadoodle or when I hablo Espanol with Hilda and Clara. It’s there, every spring when I see little shoots of plants coming back from the year before in my balcony garden. And it’s there when I see the blue wave of Mediterranean Journey sitting on my shelf and feel that enormous sense of accomplishment at having written it and published it. That’s when — Welcome Home, Annie — is as true as it can be.
Next week back to regular blogs — the cats think that it’s about time!