In his song Still In Love, Luther tells us that “a house is not a home if there’s no one there to hold you tight”. I often think about this wordplay, that involving the terms “house” and “home”, and whether it actually has significance.
Today, the 23rd of September, marks the time when, two years ago, I moved back into what I guess I still call home for the last time. Well barring any unforeseen circumstances, of course. In contrast to this one, that Sunday was still dripping with the refuse of summer as we squeezed what remained of my belongings into my family’s car and trundled off for the small town of Pinebluff, North Carolina.
I lived there for almost exactly four months, departing on an icy late January day for my current residence. To me, “home” came to mean a place where I no longer had to worry about what I was going to eat, or making sure that the meaningful bills were paid. I did have to maintain my cell phone bill, but otherwise all of that was back out of my hands. It was a bit of a welcome reprieve, and one which I now wish I had allowed myself to enjoy more than I did.
Instead, I spent much of that time kind of to myself, and pondering how I would get back into the larger world. Granted, I shouldn’t have wanted to remain there forever, but I just think I should have slipped into the role of “brother” and “Uncle” more thoroughly, as I don’t really know if I’ll experience these roles in as profound and constant a way again, or at least anytime soon.
I have my own apartment now, of course, and had one before that September day two years ago. Yet I don’t think I ever really called those rentals home. Is this because they both have had an air of draftiness? I guess industrial, like a giant space that isn’t really meant to absorb all of the memories, emotions, etc that make up a life.
Or is it because I have occupied these units by myself. Waking up on major holidays, which I haven’t done as much since relocating to Durham but certainly did in Carrboro, with no one around brings with it an attendant sadness and distance, reminiscent of the room with “Nothing there but gloom” that Luther refers to later in his song.
Well, I had stayed with my cousin in a unit that also had that somewhat unhomely feeling from 2003 till 2009, but perhaps because he was there most of the time also, it did at least seem to hold more of a sentimental value when I prepared to depart. I do recall spending one of those weird holidays, the first time we woke to a quiet Christmas in that same 2003 year that we arrived, with store-bought burgers and a plate that arrived later in the night. It still wasn’t as tough as some of those days in 09/10.
So I say all that to ask: what makes “home” to you? Do you still refer to your parent(s) place in this way exclusively? Does it become different once or if you have children. I suspect home is a place where you really have those family roots laink regardless of what role you actually play in said family. Just some thoughts as we begin the seasons where such bonds become more profound and important: cold, drippy, less ideal for meeting people outside of the household. Chime in!