My parents are moving from the home they’ve lived in since I was 16. This is the big house in the country with the swimming pool and the creek and the acres of land and the fieldstone fireplace. It was their dream house.
I had referred to this house as “home” for a very long time–long past the time when I moved to Tennessee and established residences with my own family. I left my home physically but didn’t leave it mentally and emotionally. Of course I can’t blame myself entirely. I was young and I moved to a city where the only people I knew were my husband and a bipolar guy who had been his friend at university. I spent years fantasizing about moving back.
I don’t know exactly when the shift occurred, in fact I suspect it was a gradual thing. We bought OUR dream house and got our first two dogs. I started working at jobs I enjoyed. We began meeting people here. I think the biggest shift happened because of two things. I started blogging and I met people who were like me–bookish nerds who lived for words. Before that I became absorbed in Harry Potter, and that gave me another home to go to.
I’ve had a lot of conversations with women over the years about leaving home. It many cases it’s the hardest thing we do emotionally, and we have different ways of coping. Some call their mothers every day. Some romanticize the life at their childhood home by remembering the good times in the golden haze of nostalgia and shoving all the arguments and tension into a shadowy corner of their minds. Some throw themselves into creative things like scrapbooking and quilting–as though creating works of beauty can recreate the sense of peace conferred by the idea of Home. Some women just never leave. I know a great many women who live in the bosom of their childhood families.
I coped in several ways–crafts and nostalgia and frequent visits to the home seven hours northward that I had turned into the platonic ideal.
I’ll let you in on a secret. Once you realise that you are the key to Shalom Bayis–peace in the home–and it is up to you to make a peaceful sanctuary for those you love it is one of the most freeing experiences you’ll ever have. You’ll come to realise that your home is not a place. Your home is people*. Dream houses are just that. They’re houses. They are edifices of stone and glass and wood–hard things meant to stand between the people you love and the world outside.
If I have any advice at all for other women, especially the young women who are going through the heart struggle that I lived with for so long, it is this. Stop trying to _go_ home and start trying to _make_ home where you are.
*I owe this phrase to Aral Vorkosigan. This is your daily reminder to read Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga.