Just what does "home" mean to you?

If you want to work straight from the title, go right ahead and skip this preamble.

I had this nagging feeling that I wanted to present for discussion but I have yet to come up with just the right words to describe it so let me take a few shots at what it’s about and maybe you can decide what I’m really wanting your input on.

First off, about me: I spent the first 18 years of my life about 300 miles further south in Central Alabama and lived different stretches of those 18 years in three different towns. I’m not even going to count the army bases I was located in during my first three years before my little brother came along and, besides that, I have poor to negligible memories of those places anyway. So I’m pretty sure that whatever “home” may mean to me, it has nothing to do with places I was in during those first three or four years.

After moving to Tennessee I have lived in four separate houses for as little as one year and as much as this latest stretch of 28 years. Going by numbers alone, I would have to think of this place as “home.” But I just don’t. My three kids were all born while I was in other places so there’s that connection that this place doesn’t have. My parents (now gone) and most of my older generation family (also now gone) all lived in Alabama so there’s that connection that doesn’t apply to now and here.

I don’t miss Alabama all that much on a daily basis but every now and then some strong feeling will hit me to make me realize that some part of me is there and not here.

I even had a weird feeling in South Carolina a few years back. It was as if there was some sense of “this is where I belong” about Beaufort that I have only felt about a couple of other places I’ve been: Asheville, NC, and Guntersville, AL. It’s weird enough to try to explain that I’ll just leave it at that.

Anyway, for those of you who are transplants to the area where you now live, or who have maybe lived several places long enough to have put down roots in those places before moving on to where you are now, do you ever get conflicting senses of where “home” is or was?

Feel free to treat this thread as a jumping off place for thoughts about “home” and don’t worry too much about answering any specific question. Just share some ideas about “home” if you can.

Born in Chicago, ‘raised’ in central Illinois. Went to high school in Denver and have been living in the mountains for 15 years (central Colorado).

Our house in the Rockies is definitely our home. To the point that I and my Wife feel just a [sub]little[/sub] out of place when we travel back to our ‘roots’. We have changed. So has ‘home’.

It’s different where ever you go. That’s OK. But being home is one of the nicest things in the world.

Home is our house. Or the county that we live in. Home is where I don’t have to worry if they changed the roads so much that I have a hard time finding my way around.

Home is where you may need to help visitors to cope, but you do it on a daily basis without a thought.

A very interesting OP.

The title made me think you were referring to the concept of what makes a house a home, and it brought to mind a quote with a forgotten author: “Home is place where, if you go there, they have to take you in.”

But in terms of what town or area feels like home, it’s Boston. In a month I’ll have lived in the Los Angeles area for 10 years, a quarter of my life.

But Boston is home. Funnily enough, it’s “home” for my wife too, even though she was born and raised here. She’s visited with me about 4-5 times, and she cries when we leave.

The Bay Area, which I’ll be visiting for the first time in a few years next week, feels that way too sometimes.

I get the ‘home’ feeling on certain streets, or certain intersections, or even just walking by buildings–the Flatiron Building, or the ROM, or seeing the CN Tower in the distance. I can’t really explain it–so many things mean ‘home’ to me.

Like the park two blocks down from my house, or the playground in the elementary school I went to, or the bus route I take. There’s never just one place.

Yes, I know that quote, but I can’t recall who said it either. Mark Twain? Will Rogers? There’s also the Thomas Wolfe version, “You can’t go home again” and I solved an acrostic puzzle last month where the Wolfe quote was expanded to include the notions of visiting the past in other senses as well. Some heavy thoughts. I even have an old thread with that title where I mentioned that many of the old buildings that had “home” status for me or my family members have been demolished so that “going back” would mean finding the spot where they were but which are now something else.

One of the things I was having difficulty working into a thread title, or even into the OP, has to do with those momentary flashes of events and situations that are distant in space as well as time, as if there’s part of you that’s out of reach in any meaningful way. Gone, but not forgotten sort of thing.

I’m not wanting this to get maudlin, but I wonder how many others have similar thoughts come trickling in at odd times.

Right now, “home” seems to be a fairly portable concept. I’ve done some travelling around the country this year, more than I’ve ever done, and while where I permanently reside is my base, “home” is wherever I can totally relax, be comfortable, feel secure, and basically be alone with my thoughts. I’ve found all four came right along with me on three trips so far this year, and I came back feeling great, very energised.

Home is Montreal and I think it always will be. A time may come when I’m able to say “home” and mean Maryland, but it’s still a long way away, if it ever comes at all. I lived there for 26 years, my whole life, and it’s so much a part of me that I’m not sure this transplant will work. I guess time will tell. It’s only been 4 months, after all.

When I say “home” I am always referring to Pittsburgh. I pay rent there and live there for the majority of the year and I have for the past 6 and a half years. Being out in Las Vegas for the summer I have realized that I do consider Pittsburgh to be my home but I do not consider myself from there. I will always be from Jersey in my mind.

I think it’s Robert Frost.

I always felt trapped by the question “Where are you from?” because it always seems such a loaded one, given my background. Nowadays when I say “back home,” I find myself referring to Korea, where my parents are. Which is weird, because I never thought of Korea as home while I was actually there. I was 13 when we moved to Korea, after a childhood spent all over the place (Detroit, Chicago. Atlanta), and I resented the fact that my parents referred to this move as “going back,” because as far as I was concerned Korea was a foreign country. Ironically it was also the place of my birth, but I’d been whisked to the US when I was only 6 months old, so of course I didn’t remember any of it.

I was miserable for at least the first 6 years of my stay; after college, things got a bit better. Still, in the back of my mind I always assumed I was going to go back to the US. And here I am, but it’s not the place I remembered. And oddly enough I find myself missing Korea at random times, and I catch myself calling it “home.” Yet I wouldn’t go back to that place for the world. But I suppose it’s hard to live anywhere for 11 years without developing some kind of bond. And who knows where I’ll be calling “home” 11 years from now.

There’s “home”, and there’s “home away from home”.

My “home” is where I’m in charge/responsible for the decoration, maintenance, and general run of the place. Where I can crash on the couch and enjoy a quiet afternoon’s doze in front of the TV with no-one underfoot.

There are a couple of places I consider “home away from home”; where I can conduct myself as “one of the family”, eat from the fridge and come and go as I please. Such places are one of the true pleasures of life.

I’ve always lived within a few miles of the house I grew up in. In fact at the moment I’m living just up the street from it. So to me, “home” is the area immediately surrounding my house, a few blocks in each direction. We didn’t have a car through most of my childhood, so I spent a lot of time walking on those streets, which is pretty much the “downtown” section of my city.

I’ve lived in Chicago for the past four years. Up until a year ago, I travelled a lot for work, so whenever I’d come flying up to Ohare, or driving up I-290 into the city, or up Lakeshore Drive or the Skyway or whatever, I’d always get this “Ahh, great to be home!” feeling.

At the end of 2005 and beginning of 2006, my job had me working in metro Detroit-- the place of my birth and “home” for the first 29 years of my life. It felt great to be back there for an extended period, but going back to Chicago on the weekends still felt like “Ahh, great to be home!” But a little less so than before.

Over the past year, I got married, and my (at-the-time) fiancee moved to Chicago. But not knowing anybody here besides me, she really didn’t feel at “home” here, despite having a Chicago mailing address and all of her stuff here.

Now, she and I both have family in Michigan, so we found ourselves taking more and more weekend trips to Detroit and Grand Rapids to see our family and friends there. Then, at some point over the past year, I found myself driving up I-94 toward Detroit, past Ann Arbor, Metro Airport and that giant Uniroyal tire and feeling “Ahh, great to be home!”

We both realized that Michigan was where we wanted to be, metro Detroit was my home. Chicago felt like home for a while, because I live here and love the city, but Detroit was home. So we did something no one else seems to be doing lately: we actually drove a U-Haul into the state of Michigan! We were like two salmon swimming upstream past all the people currently flocking out of the state.

Now, once I get this damn condo sold in Chicago, I’ll finally be able to go home for good. Anyone wanna buy a nice 1 BR-1 Bath vintage rehab condo by the lake? :slight_smile:

Home is where my family is. Which happens to be all local, so that’s good.

Home is to me, England.

This is my country, my homeland, and I love it with a passion so fiece you wouldn’t believe it

Whenever I return from holiday the first breath of English air is nectar, I’m home again.

I was born and raised in Houston, TX. I’ve lived in various places around the world, and I keep coming back here. So…

My home country is the USA.
My home state is Texas.
My home city is Houston.
My home is the house where I can go and close the door and the rest of the world is out there, but I’m snuggling up with SWMBO inside.

My present domicile, complete with woods, kitties, many birds, and an occasional possum.
Not that it is palatial, it’s modest, yet comfortable.

My previous home was nice, but suburban living in a cookie cutter little pink house on a 100 x 65 lot became old after ~ 15 years. Taxes sucked, too.

It’s also a state of mind. My GF moved to a new apartment this weekend, and helping her get the place in order gives it a feel of home, too, just as her investing time affords her a homey feeling here.

Good question. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately, as I’m in the process of becoming intentionally homeless (selling my house and the bulk of my possessions in order to travel and work my way around the world for as long as possible). Some days, the prospect of not having a fixed address is frightening; other days, it’s exhilarating.

– My wonderful house used to be “home.” But now that it’s on the market and so much of my stuff is gone, I’m emotionally distancing myself from it.

– The Washington DC area, where I’ve lived for 18 years, is “home” only in that I have friends and memories here and know the area so well that I can go just about anywhere and not get lost. But there are waaaay too many people here, which is one reason that I’ll be leaving soon.

– Gordon Lightfoot has a song that starts, “When I walk the hills so high/Around the town where I was born. . .” The place I feel the strongest connection too is my birthplace, Williamstown, Massachusetts. It’s also where I went to college, where I met my ex-husband, where I first lived and worked on my own, and other formative experiences. In all, I’ve only spent six of my 43 years there, but it has carved the deepest groove in my soul. I can shut my eyes and see the outlines of the hills that surround it. The buildings and the people change, but the hills remain the same.

– At some level, “home” will be my parents’ house in Ohio (the place they have to take you in), which is also where my few remaining personal artifacts will be stored.

– But at the most basic level, “home” is wherever my life partner is. She and I joke that as long as we travel together, we can be like turtles and carry our home with us on our backs.

Very nicely put, Owlett, especially the part that goes

That’s hard to top for what I was shooting for in the OP.