Home is where our dreams and loved ones are

Home is a feeling, a sense of belonging. PHOTO| FOTOSEARCH

What you need to know:

  • Home can be a person. When we meet a soul-mate, we often say, “I feel at home with this person."
  • Home, I have come to discover is also a feeling. Home is that sense of belonging that comes about when loved ones gather.

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." — Robert Frost

“Where is home?” I’ve encountered that question a couple of times as strangers try to figure out my tribe. Unfortunately for them, my name doesn’t usually give it away immediately. I usually stammer some response, not sure if “home” is my parent’s ancestral home, where I was born or where I have lived my en­tire life. Home.

There are times you feel at home in a city you have just visited for the first time. And there are times you don’t feel at home at your rural home. Especially after one or both your parents and grandparents die. There are the homes you raise your children in, where the walls have reverberated with laughter and tears, where memories have been created in living rooms. And when those children leave for college, it no longer feels like home.

One friend who is at the empty nesting stage could not stand the quietness in her home after her children left. After a while, she decided to move to a smaller apartment, taking only a few of her treasured possessions. When I visited her, she seemed happier than I had seen her in a while. She had found “home” again.

Home. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are in a life­long search for home. You see, eventually we come to the realisation that home is more than bricks and mortar, even though that is a good starting point. Home can be a place, although it is usually much more.

Home can be a person. When we meet a soul-mate, we often say, “I feel at home with this person,” but do we lose home when they leave or die? I thought about this recently when I visited my grandmother’s home during her funeral. The house was still the same, yet different. Her presence had always made it home for me. That had now changed.

BUILDING A HOME

For some people, a house is not a home until they buy it or build it. “We are just renting,” they say in apology, not wanting to spend much effort in this current space. “When we move into our dream home, we will do all that we would like,” they add.

The sad reality is that most of us will spend a large percentage of our lives in rented spaces. That, according to author Sarah Ban Breathnach, should not make them less of home.

She writes in Simple Abundance, “It doesn’t matter where you live at this moment. You may be in a trailer, an apartment, or a house. You may even be rooming in a motel. It may not be your dream but it does shelter your dreams. Those dreams can transform it into the home for which you long. Love knows how to paint, refinish, plaster, wall paper, stencil, plant, sew, and build, even on a budget.”

WELCOMING FEELING

Home, I have come to discover is also a feeling. Home is that sense of belonging that comes about when loved ones gather. You can feel at home during a family vacation at a beach hotel or around an evening fire in the village.

Home is that welcoming feeling of familiar when you board a Kenya Airways flight in a distant land and the crew say, ‘Karibu!’.

Home is arriving at our airports or other ports of entry and meeting surly immigration officials. You are so pleased to see them though that you could give them a hug. Home is a taste, smell or sight that suddenly transports you back in time, making you al­most cry.

Home is the sound of Boney M’s Christmas album that many of us grew up listening to. Ultimately, home is about the experience of belonging, being nurtured, security, acceptance, love and delight.

Hopefully, most of us will start life in a home where we are loved, cared for and encouraged to grow. After that we will leave home as we forge our way into the world and find another place to lay our head and hold our memories. There we will recreate another home for ourselves.

If we don’t succeed, we will be like wanderers, adrift, searching for something we have left behind.

Hopefully, we will eventually sense the peace that comes from knowing that while we lost sight of it momentarily, we are finally back. Home.

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