The Meaning of Home

“Home means a future. Once we had a stable home, we could think beyond where we were going to live from week to week, and we could begin to look ahead to where we wanted to go. Home is the base where everything begins.” — Kelly

Dorothy was spot-on: There’s no place like it. As we journey through life―dodging the occasional wicked witch―it’s comforting to know that a cozy bed, loving arms, and perhaps even a Munchkin or two await, just across the threshold.

When asked what home meant one woman described it as the place where she can be naked, both emotionally and physically.

Bricks, real or fictional have power over our imagination. ‘Carnforth’, was a house I lived in for most of my married life. At the time it represented more than mere bricks, stones and mortar. It has been in Fitzroy for over a century providing continuity and an anchor to generations. Once an old dairy, with stables at the rear, I sometimes fancied I could hear horses hooves clip clopping on the blue-stone cobblestone lane at the back or people arriving to pick up their milk.

I never really imagined myself being any where else but the wheel of life turned and after my husbands death I sold and moved out to the country, renting for two years until I was sure I had found the right place. Recently, over ten years since selling and moving, a former neighbour encouraged me to visit and see the massive renovations that were taking place at Carnforth. I had very mixed feelings as I wandered through the old house again. The closeness and sense of home had gone! I knew that this house and I had gone our seperate ways. I felt pleased that she was being given another life.

After renting a country farm house, bordering a sheep farm in Wheatsheaf, I finally found a place to seriously consider buying. From the moment I drove along the neighbouring, tree lined street, turned the corner and entered the street bearing my great grandfather’s name, I knew that I had really come home. I bought the house on the spot!

When I arrived my new home needed loving restoration. My daughter and I noted, as the work progressed, that the house appeared to have popped on her dancing shoes and was happy about me claiming the space. From the outset we embraced one another. If I were to write an autobiography I would begin here, in this house and take time to remember the eight homes I have lived in, other homes I have felt connected too. I would dip into the well of memory by using the notion of Descansos, marking the crossroads, the deaths and fresh starts.

Today I recommend that you begin by thinking abut how your home mirrors yourself. Christine Fredendall undertook an integrative project exploring home and the inner self making reference to Gaston Bachelard’s ‘Poetics of Space’. For a number of years I worked with the owners of homes when they had decided to sell, making pop up websites to showcase their homes. It was a joy to connect with them and the homes they had loved.

Consider acquiring a copy of ‘House as a Mirror of Self” by Clare Cooper Marcus. Marcus provides lots of wonderful exercises that can lead in a number of directions, not the least of which is autobiographical writing. She asks her reader to consider what home really means to them. She suggests gathering together some felt pens or crayons and a sketch pad. She directs the reader to close their eyes and to allow any tense muscles that are taut to relax. She suggests that when the reader feels ready they draw a symbol of what their home means, beginning with a core image and then drawing other images.

Prior to finding the work of Marcus I asked students to use crayons, felt pens and charcoal to draw their neighbourhoods and homes. This is a wonderful way to begin autobiographical writing.

Sit quietly in your space and contemplate what you might do with the concept of home.