I just read a blog post by a friend of mine from school. In the past year he took a semester abroad, specifically in Oxford England. In the spring we’ll both be graduating and he’ll be headed to grad school. I mention all of this because his post was about disorientation. He was talking about how he has lived in so many different places in a short period of time, and now his subconscious is losing its idea of where Home is. At the end of his post, my friend posed a question which I have expanded on: what exactly is home? can you take it with you? is it a physical place? What does it take to consider a place or a thing home?
I have a small bag with several compartments hanging off my wheelchair so I can reach it easily. During the school year, it’s generally filled with pencils, pens, folded up handouts that I have yet to file away, etc. However, right now it’s filled with a lot of other things. Right now it’s filled with a small, stuffed frog that I’ve had since I was five, several guitar picks, my notebook that is slowly being filled with new and old song lyrics, my special leopard pen, and an empty assault rifle shell that was used to decimate a pineapple yesterday. All of these things have either good use or happy memories attached to them, and I wonder if in a way, that makes them home.
My family and I got home around 11:30 last night after spending a week and a day camping in Maine. It’s usually very nice to come home from camping, but for some reason, it seemed like the week went by so fast that we weren’t quite as desperate to return as we usually are. Perhaps this is because camping has become the only time of the year we see some of our relatives. My cousin Amber, who is attending Mcgill University, has spent the past three summers there as well, and has decided to permanently plant herself in Montreal. My cousin Chris is now an EMT in Vermont, though he used to live in Maine. My Mom’s cousin Eddie comes down from Bangor Maine. The list goes on.
Sometimes things are very much the same from year to year, and some years we have a whole lot to catch up on at Camp. I have been doing this since I was a year old, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon. I hope that one of these years I’ll have a wedding to talk about, or maybe an apartment or house of my own. Maybe I’ll have a job, or maybe my music career will have taken off.
My brother doesn’t really love camping, but I hope he will continue to come once our parents have no more say in it. I hope he brings his wife and kids years down the road (if he has them, of course). He intends to become a brain surgeon, so that will make things interesting, but everyone has to take a vacation, right? One week during the summer seems reasonable.
All this is to say that I think I wasn’t completely thrilled to come home last night because in a way, Camp is home. I just read a blog post by a friend of mine discussing that particular issue: i.e. what is Home? His post came about as the result of a dream he had. In the dream, he was wandering around a familiar library in a completely unfamiliar place. The city in his dream was a strange combination of Boston, Oxford, and New York, where he has or will be living over the past several years and in the near future. He posed the question of whether or not the concept of Home is dependent on place. He talked about how so many people have no transition period between high school and the “real world,” and this results in a serious reality change that can cause real emotional damage in some cases.
One of my cousins went to a counselor a year or two ago, and he told my Mom that he learned something very helpful: there are essentially two types of people in the world: there are what the counselor called “sails” and “anchors.” An “anchor” he said, was someone who is very stable and will always be there for people. For me, this would be my parents, my brother, and a few of my friends. I know they love me, and I know I can depend on them for anything. I think it could be said that these people are Home.
I have a little pouch with several compartments hanging off the armrest of my wheelchair. This pouch is currently filled with a menagerie of things. It’s filled with my cell phone, my wallet, several guitar picks, a notebook that is slowly being filled with song lyrics, a small, awkwardly heavy leopard pen, a tiny stuffed frog toy, and an empty assault rifle shell from yesterday that was used to decimate a pineapple. My pouch is filled with different things at different times, but so is my life. For me, my pouch is Home. I always know that whatever I need at a given time is in there, even if it takes me a while to find it.
My friend asked the question in his post: can you take Home with you? It depends on what Home is for you. My house, among other things is Home for me, so in that sense no, but in other ways, absolutely. I love my bedroom, with its somewhat tacky color scheme, it’s purple and orange lava lamp, it’s multicolored pillows, its miscellaneous bookshelves, and its assortment of collected things, both worthless and expensive. Songs have been written in here, homework has been done in here, things have been celebrated in here, and tears have been cried in here. I pray in here and sometimes I eat in here. If there was a mini-fridge and a toilet I could live in here. My bedroom is absolutely Home.
I will probably always consider the house on Haverhill Street Home, even though I really don’t like living in Suburbia. I will always want to come back here for Christmas and Thanksgiving, even if, and when I have my own family, my own career, and my own house/apartment. I guess my response to my friend is: yes, Home is dependent on place, but for your own sanity, make sure you can take it with you, too.
Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!