Back home

I’ve told people often in the past two weeks that I’m glad to be home, that I was ready to come home.

Home is the center of countless clichés and they all mean something. Home is where the heart is. Home away from home. A house is not a home. A man’s home is his castle. You can’t go home again.

As I’ve delivered my lines over and over I’ve thought about them. What is home to me? Where is my home?

Where my so-called roots are? The address where my bills are sent? Is it where my books are? My clothes? My beloved kitchen knives? Maybe it’s where my cats sleep, waiting to sidle near to me until their ears are just beneath my fingers.

It turns out that home isn’t so easy to define. I spent three months in France and felt very much at home there. Maybe home is a feeling of comfort, of belonging.

And then I wanted to go home. Home became the place where my husband was.

It’s complicated. It could be seen as a bad thing – for home to be such a vague and fluid concept. There’s something to be said for the comfort of absolutes.

In Travels with Charley John Steinbeck marveled at the proliferation of mobile homes, and from there he considered the general trend toward mobility among Americans. He surmised that we move around not just because we can but because we’re predisposed to. We’re “a restless species,” he wrote, “with a very short history of roots.”

I’ve always agreed with Steinbeck’s speculation that most of us Americans descend from the “wayward ones who weren’t content to stay at home.” Some might observe this with sadness, or think there’s something bad about leaving home, about uprooting.

I choose to look at our condition as freedom. Only my imagination and financial resources limit the geography of my personal sovereignty.

I live in California but I’ll always be a Texan. I’m an American but France was my home for a while. I’ve received mail at about 15 addresses since college and those places have all been home.

The essential and magnificent truth as I see it is that my home is whatever and wherever I want it to be. And today I’m home.

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