I have been thinking a great deal about the word home this week.
I recently finished reading A Place in the World by Frances Mayes, which is a study of home and how it helps to define our lives. She did a fabulous job of weaving the images and descriptions of different homes into the lives of those who occupied them, showing how that translated into who they were. The underlying premise was that house and home are synonyms.
That also got me thinking about my first book, Saving Home, a middle grades, historical fiction novel set in St. Augustine during the Siege of 1702. An underlying theme there was that a house and home were decidedly different.
So which is it? Like so many things, I am not sure it is an either/or situation. I believe there are as many nuances and variations as there are people. Even Ms. Mayes talked about the portability of home.
I find comfort in the concept of the portability of home, because right now my parents are in the process of downsizing and moving closer to us. While I am thrilled, I see the struggle that goes with leaving the place that has been your home for years, and the difficulty of redefining your space and the things within that space.
These last couple of weeks have also been very challenging here in Florida. After Hurricane Ian ripped through the state, the aftermath has been devastating in some areas. While hard and fast data seems hard to come by at this point, it is clear that there are thousands in our communities who have been displaced from their homes due to flooding and damage, many having lost everything.
A school not far from the one in which I teach, was totally destroyed by flooding. Our district has relocated them and everyone is working hard to see that they get the supplies and materials they need to continue to teach their students. Additionally, the school’s surrounding community was flooded, which means that many of the families in their school have also lost their homes. Efforts are underway to gather donations of supplies and items for these families as well.
Typically, our homes do ground us. They are where we feel safest, they anchor us in turbulent times, they are a reflection of us and we find solace within. So what does it mean when that physical place is gone?
Perhaps a broader view of the word home needs to be adopted during times of challenge. Our home is no longer just the building in which we sleep each night, but it is the community in which we live. It is the people who surround us and support us during challenging times. I like to believe that home is a concept that can be taken with us and an idea that can expand to fit every situation.
Wishing everyone a Home Sweet Home.