There are many definitions of “home,” but simply put, it really is just “the place where one lives.”
If someone were to ask you, “Where do you live?” most likely you would reply with your city or home address. But, in your heart, where do you live? Regardless of your age, culture, or even your place in time, this could be one heck of a question. Your home, or “place where you live” is as personal as the clothes you wear – and just as transferable. Some people reside in the same home of their birth and remain there all their lives. Others move out during or after college and eventually get their own place. Then there are some that move from city to city with adventure in their souls, never looking back. Still, others heed the calling to live in another country altogether. Whichever kind of home dweller you are, it’s not where you reside or what’s inside that makes it home, it’s really the people that breathe life into that special place.
In my collection of decorating books, I cherish a special one, From Rubble and Dust, where author Marie Luis Charmat shares her love of restoring homes and estates around the globe – literally taking them from rubble and dust and restoring them from abandoned dwellings and offering them new life. She and her husband would live in the restored homes, tailored to their liking until they would discover another lonely treasure calling upon them.
“Like so many things in life, glamourous settings have simple beginnings,” writes Marie Luis. “It all starts with Rubble and Dust. Writing this book gave me the chance to unravel and discuss the notion of moving on. I am fascinated by the idea that a house never really belongs to you, but gives a fresh lease on life with each new inhabitant. Nothing lasts forever, nowhere more visible than in the ownership of a house.”
At first when I read that statement, I thought no – we own our place, it’s ours. But the voice of my pastor resonated, “Nothing you possess is yours, none of it is permanent. When you die, the only thing you take with you is what you were born with.” And then, I remembered. Over the years, every place I lived in was home, whether I was in my childhood house, a rental with girlfriends, or as a homeowner with my husband. What little I had to begin with, it was enough. And even though the author of From Rubble and Dust had financial means to renovate with lavish amenities, the concept is the same: nothing makes a home yours until the people who dwell in it live there.
The first time I moved out of the house I grew up in was when my girlfriend said she needed a third roommate to make ends meet. I said yes. It was that instant, and the start of what would become many, many places I would reside – they each became “home” by the people I shared them with.
For us girls, at that time it was also the aroma of homemade Mexican beans on the stove cooked by my girlfriend that said I was home. It was the voice of the other roomie rushing to wake me up for work when my alarm didn’t go off. Home was where three college gals huddled over broken hearts, making ends meet, and shared our hopes and dreams for the future. We loved our shelving that was made of crates, and the décor that was leftover art projects.
Later, we would rent condos, buy homes, and then second homes. Crates became matching furniture and art projects gave way to custom paintings. And still, none of it resonated until those voices and warm bodies walked through the doors and the sights and sounds of life filled the home. It didn’t matter if we were in our home town, at a beach house, or in the suburbs. No matter where we landed, it was home.
In the end, wherever you take your life and love – not your belongings – is home. Those voices, those footsteps, even if it’s just your own, is the most important element to the heart of where you live. It’s okay to park yourself in a place of beauty, safety and comfort. But don’t forget to nourish the souls that give your home its character, and allows you to make memories that will shape your life. That is, until it’s time for you to move on, find a new home, and let the next inhabitant follow in your footsteps and do the same.
Abella Carroll, Freelance Writer