What Really Is A Home?
What is home? This is a concept I have struggled with recently. In the last 12 months my “home” could be defined as a house I own, an RV, an Airbnb, a hotel, my parents’ house, a rental house, a house I don’t yet live in, a familiar city, a new location every night, an unfamiliar city, and a POD.
One year ago, I owned and lived in a house in Seattle. My family had lived there for three years and this was the place we brought our boys to after their births. I had an office in one room and my desk was one of my favorite places, partly because it was the only place that was just mine. The house was located a few blocks from our favorite parks and a short bike ride to preschool and work. One year ago, this house and Seattle was “home.”
In March of last year we packed half of our belongings into a POD and donated or sold the rest. We kept out a few toys, clothes, and a small assortment of other things that went into our 24ft RV. As we drove out of Seattle to begin our road trip, we stopped briefly in front of the house and waved goodbye. A month later while on the road, the house sale closed. We celebrated joyfully, but I also felt a little empty inside with it gone from us. At that point, “home” was splintered: the “stuff” half packed away and the “us” half now in a traveling RV.
For the six months we were on the road, we stayed at a new spot almost every night. The boys loved their RV cubbies they slept in and we mostly loved the tight quarters. The physical RV became our “home,” but home was no longer a set location.
When we landed in Tucson in the fall, we moved out of the RV and into an Airbnb house. We were supposed to have moved into the new-build house we are purchasing, but it wasn’t anywhere near completed. The idea of “home” once again felt disjointed. We accessed our POD to get the kids beds and our bikes and while unloading and reloading boxes in the POD, I was reminded how many things I owned but couldn’t yet have back with me. We were now staying in a rental that didn’t feel homey, and almost daily went to look at a house that was supposed to be ours, but wasn’t ready yet. Was “home” the Airbnb we slept in? The POD with our stuff? The house we wanted to be in?
We had a whirlwind week in December where between my back-to-back trips visiting my parents, we essentially moved three times. I flew back to Tucson with Ryan after the first weekend trip, and by 10am the next day we had our belongings temporarily stored in our RV and Airbnb vacated. Dave and I went to the closest thing that felt like home to me – a coffee shop – and waited until 1pm when we checked into a hotel. We set up the kids travel beds, unpacked our bags, got the boys from preschool, and introduced them to our new temporary hotel “home.” Two days later, we packed up and left the hotel. Dave dropped Colin and me off at the airport for our flight to Seattle while he and Ryan hit the road for a short road trip to Colorado to pick up a new home-brew system. That weekend, Colin and my “home” was my parents’ house while for Dave and Ryan it was hotels. When Colin and I flew back, we went to our new short-term rental “home” and slept on the floor. The following day, we dropped the boys off at preschool and once again accessed our POD to get out the small amount of furniture we had saved – two couches, a table, and our bed.
While up in Seattle with Colin, he and I walked to a coffee shop for some hot cocoa. I was quietly trying to process the moves and changes and the concept of home while Colin happily sipped his drink. After a while he said he wanted to go home. I looked at him for a minute, wondering if he was thinking the same thing, and asked “what home do you want to go to?” He instantly responded, “Grams and Poppy’s house!” Ok I thought, that’s simple enough. Then I asked him, “where was home before we got on the airplane to fly here?” He smiled and exclaimed, “A hotel!” I asked him if he liked that home and he said he did. But really, how could a 4-year-old not love a place with halls to run up and down, waffle and juice breakfasts, a shower filled with endless buckets of ice to melt, and a room we all slept in together?
Right now, we are entering our third month in our short-term rental. It is starting to feel more like a “home,” possibly because the furniture is ours. I have my same desk set up near a window again, and when I sit there working on the computer, I feel like I did back in our old house. I’m in my space – the little bit of the world that is just mine. Tucson is starting to feel a bit like “home” too as we get to know the area and meet people. But most of my things are still in a POD and I see our future house almost daily and long to be living in it.
So the question still remains to me – what really is a home? To my son, it’s simply wherever we slept the night before. But to me I somehow need it to be more. At times it’s been a specific location, where my stuff is, and where I sleep at night. But at times it’s not been each of these things. I’m still left to ponder.