How many times have you walked in your house, dropped your suitcase and muttered, “Ahhh, home.” Or maybe you’ve felt that way when you’ve arrived at a place you’ve visited before. It’s even possible you’ve had that “welcome home” feeling when you’ve arrived somewhere you’ve never been.
The first time my husband, Dick Honeyman, arrived in the train station in Florence, Italy, he turned to me and said, “This is great. It feels like home.” We’ve been back to Italy several times and now I have that feeling when we arrive.
But as much as I enjoy traveling I always love getting back to our old house on the river. It’s been home to us for more than three decades. There’s great comfort in that feeling.
It’s not only a person’s house that bubbles up this emotion. It has to do with familiarity. That’s why it can change over time. The best example is when you physically move from one house to another, especially if you’re making other changes in your life.
When I moved on August 1, 1985 I was used to living alone in a much smaller house. The next day Dick moved in and we got married in the living room August 3, the very next day.
Instantly I had a husband, a new home, two teenage kids and one cat. I remember wondering how long it would take before it all felt like home. Now it all is so much “home” it is part of my very soul.
When my friend Teri’s house burned and was completely destroyed, she and her husband built another house, much like the 100-year-old house they had. When she had an open house I loaned her some things to put on the tables so it looked more like home. She said, “I hope this new house feels like home soon.” And a few years later she says it certainly does.
Robin Macy who lives with her husband Kenny White in a charming little house on the grounds of the Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine says she considers the out of doors her home.
“I rest in what I call the bunk house, but feel more at home out in nature,” she said.
Makes sense when you remember home is where the heart is.
That “homey” feeling is a result of emotions spurred by not only familiarity but memories. Regardless of how old you are, going back to your childhood home feels like going home. When my mom moved from the house I grew up in, I walked around with my mind being flooded with memories.
I remembered how she allowed my brother to work on his bicycle in the house because it was too cold outside. He did a test ride down the hallway. Dad taught me to parallel park in the street in front of the house. One window air conditioner in one room. A new stove for mom that was turquoise blue. So many memories.
But let’s be real here. Don’t think for a minute everyone gets a warm fuzzy feeling when they remember a home from decades ago.
A friend confided in me that the first home she loved was her dorm room in college. She finally felt safe. She said every time she went home for a visit her stomach would start churning about five miles from her parents’ home. I can’t imagine.
Recently as I was driving down town to have lunch with a friend I was thinking about “home” being a good topic for a column.
At a stop light I noticed a woman sitting on the steps of St. Paul United Methodist Church. It appeared the big bag next to her with a blanket rolled up on top contained her worldly goods. One minute later I saw on north Topeka a homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk. I would doubt the word “home” would conjure up the same emotions with these two people as it does with people who actually have a permanent home.
It reminded me once again how grateful I am to have a home. To have lived in homes all my life that have been safe and welcoming. And to now have a home that our family and friends feel welcomed and comfortable. When I hear “Ah, I’m so happy to be back,” it is music to my ears.
Regardless of the size of the house or how many people live in it, if it’s a home you’re always happy to return to, you are blessed.