Monday, November 23, 2009

Where is Home

I have given a lot of thought to this topic over the years.  A friend recently blogged about Going Home Again and it set my mind to wandering.  Wandering along pathways that quite honestly have no destinations.

So where is home?  Is it western Pennsylvania where I was born and spent the first 24 years of my life?   The place where all of my blood relatives (my own children excepted) reside?  The place that has changed so little in the 33 odd years since I left that I can still easily find my way around town?

I know it's not western New York.  While I loved our brief stay there the roots were shallow.  Not enough time to get a firm grasp in the rich farmland surrounding Dansville.

But is it Alabama?  I moved there feeling like a fish out of water and left fifteen years later a better person for having spent time south of the Mason Dixon Line.  My children, although not born in Huntsville, spent their childhoods playing in the red clay that abounds in north Alabama.  Clay so thick and determined that it grabs on to tiny roots and pulls them deeper with each passing day; clinging tightly when the tree is eventually uprooted.  I wonder, when my boys think of home is it thoughts of Alabama that fill their heads?  I must make a note to ask.

Or is home south Florida?  After all I believe I have lived here longer than any other place except for Pennsylvania.  Does duration of time make a place home?  I'm afraid my Florida roots are not unlike the roots of the palm, thin and shallow, easily uprooted and transplanted. Perhaps it is because there is no family here.  And yet when I'm away I miss it.  At those times when I think of home, my thoughts automatically drift to Marco Island, to swaying palms and white sandy beaches.

So where is home?  I'm not certain that I will ever be able to answer that question.  When you live the life of a nomad you leave little pieces of yourself at every stop along way.  But you also take with you the best of those places, memories of family and friends.  Memories that can be served up at a moments notice.  Memories that warm the heart on a cold winter day or even on an overcast morning just days away from my favorite holiday.  You know, the one that usually takes me home.


Anonymous said...

Oh, my, my, my! Your musings do cut deep today!

I traveled around Nashville for about twenty years actively thinking, "This isn't home!". Then one day, at about thirty years, I realized I wasn't thinking that anymore. Ann Arbor isn't the same as it was when I lived there, but that makes me feel more like an insider than ever, like I know things about it that people who live there now do not.

My real home, you will be please to know, is Western Pennsylvania. That is where my heart has always been. We were close to there a few years ago, but I declined my husband's invitation to visit. I'm content for it to be a memory home only.

I think I'll take a few minutes and roam around my memory. Thanks for the post.

support said...

I have a lot of great memories in that once small town in Alabama where I grew up however I do not consider it home. I consider AU more my home in Al. To me...P'ville is my home.

The Youngest Son.

Susan Patton said...

Hi Susan!
This is too funny - I too, am a Susan Patton, living in western PA (north of Pittsburgh), and found you because I was trying to establish D'oh! It was taken by your beautiful work. I love your photography and the thoughts you share on your blog - I'm glad if anyone beat me to the domain name, it was you :) Keep up your good work - You make me proud to be a photography loving Susan Patton from western PA!

Audrey said...

I can't tell you how many times the very same thought has wandered through my mind over the years and the answer always seemed to have been Western PA. It is where I, too, grew up and where family lives. Having moved some 11+ times in the first 9 years of marriage doesn't much allow new roots of any kind to set in! But even having now lived in CT nearly 24 years and raised my children here, I have only recently felt somewhat rooted and that due to my daughter's marriage that would seem to firmly plant her here. It has certainly changed thoughts about where we might head once retired. At one time, we had no problem thinking about moving on. Now there are reasons to stay. Maybe this is finally becoming home - but it is still hard to say.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with all the people that make you feel at home!