It’s a loaded word, isn’t it? Chock-full of slippery semantics. I’m a native Hoosier. Grew up in Greenfield, went to school both in Bloomington and in Muncie, raised my kids in Zionsville. In July, we moved The Tribe to Starkville. Now we call Mississippi home.
Here’s the thing. Home is where my family is. Home is where my friends are. Home is wherever I choose to find it. Home is in the eyes of my husband. Home is in the smiles of Sam, Gus, Mary Claire, and George. Home is my stinky dogs licking my face and wagging themselves silly when I lug my suitcase in after a week of traveling. Home is laughter, love, irreverence, and the protective snarl of a Mama Bear.
Home is bedhead and sweaty PJs and sharing a cup of coffee with those who don’t mind in the least.
Home is where my Apothic Red is waiting. Home is where I inadvertently break wine glass after wine glass with my jazz hands and maniacal arm movements.
But home is also where cozy guest beds and the smiles of friends are waiting for me. Home is where one of my beloved compadres pours me a glass of red while we sit fireside and laugh until it hurts. Home is where I slip on the ice, end up at the ER, and get selflessly escorted to my cousin’s wedding by my beloved childhood bestie. Home is grooving on the dance floor with my cousins, my aunts, my uncles, my sister and brother-in-law, my niece and nephews while we celebrate the beginning of two precious lives made one. Home is where I inadvertently break other people’s wine glasses, too. Home is where I know your garage code. And where you trust me with that precious secret… and many others.
It’s an age-old cliche, but home is truly where the heart is.
I was so proud of my Hoosier homeland this past week. As Super Bowl host, Indy has truly outdone itself. It felt cozy, felt welcoming, felt unpretentious. If it had let me, I would have broken one of its wine glasses. I would have slipped on its ice and let it help me with my pantyhose after my arm was assigned to a sling. (Aren’t you glad you passed on that opportunity, Indy? You dodged the pantyhose bullet. Good for you.) I simultaneously missed, celebrated, and enjoyed the open arms of my native Indiana.
Home, I’m discovering, can be a multitude of places. It’s in Zionsville, Greenfield, Carmel, Westfield, Fishers, on 79th Street. Perhaps one day it might be in Utah or California or Colorado or Australia or Italy.
It’s where those I love reside. Where I feel all warm and bubbly inside. Where kids who share my DNA laugh loudly at my expense, and where friends can unapologetically lift their shirts and show me the changes in their pregnant boobs without a second thought. It’s where my husband cooks a turkey to welcome me back to the dinner table. Happy Thanksgiving in February, Love. I am ever so grateful for you.
I love that my home is getting bigger, wider, more expansive. I love that my home is no longer my house, my car, my things, my checking account. (Thank God it’s not my checking account. That particular home might easily be blown to bits by the Big Bad Wolf.) I am happy that friends and family and love and abundance are always welcome in my home; that self-righteousness and harsh words and anger are quickly shown to the door.
I love that my home is adorned with the warmth of blues and reds and greens, that there is dog hair on the floor, that there are fingerprints on the doors, that there are dirty socks under the couch. And no one seems to mind.
I love that in my homes away from home, the smell of freshly laundered sheets lulls me to sleep, the lure of exotic soaps and shampoos greets me on familiar bathroom countertops, the adventure of Almond Milk in my morning coffee encourages me to embrace new culinary experiences.
In my mother’s home, my childhood home, dueling TVs battle throughout the night, lights flicker on and off into the wee hours as my aging parents wander aimlessly through their sleeplessness, the smell of cigarette smoke lingers in the garage, and treats of candy and small gifts are always waiting on my bed — the same bed I slept in when I was fifteen, when my heart was broken over and over again, when I was learning who I was and how I intended to make my way.
My mother’s home will always be home.
My childrens’ homes will always be home. (Until their spouses lay down the law, I suppose.)
My home is by my husband’s side, no matter where we both might roam. We’ll find our way together. We’ll chart a course of our own. We’ll jump on the next train, board the next plane, load up the car and travel to the next town. But we’ll do it together. Always, together. Hand in hand.
As Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros say, “home is wherever I’m with you.”