I have lived in a number of different places. Mine is not a pattern of yearly moves to exotic and far-flung places, but rather a progression from one home to another, with a few interim locations.
I was born in RI and lived for the first five years of my life in a small, former industrial city, on a street that was predominantly working people. I have no personal knowledge or recollection of the owners of the house, they lived on the second floor, but I came to learn that the father was a milkman, the mom took care of the two children, who were much older than me.
I have very little actual memories of the place, just some little incidents and happenings. One in particular I somewhat recall, but it is vague at best.
We were playing in a neighbor’s yard and my sister, who would have been 3 or so at the time, wandered near a hole being dug for something or other. The hole was pretty deep and there were pipes exposed on the bottom. She stumbled over the edge and I managed to grab hold of her. I wasn’t strong enough to pull her back up and yelled for someone to get my mother.
She ran over and hauled my sister back to safety. When my father got home (he was a Trooper with the Rhode Island State Police) he presented me with a Good Conduct Medal that he had from the Marine Corps. There were times over the years where my father and I had a strained relationship and little contact, but I held onto that medal and have it to this day.
We left this home when I was five.
My next home was in a growing suburban community located in the northern part of the state. This home took me from childhood to early adulthood. I have many memories of exploring the woods surrounding the plat. Baseball in the street, little league games, trips to “Jolly Cholly’s” (a story in and of itself). This was really my anchor home. I still think of myself as being from here, even though I haven’t been there since I was 19, have lived longer in Massachusetts then I ever did in Rhode Island, but it was my first, memorable, home.
I left this home when I was nineteen.
There then came a period where I didn’t so much have a home, but a dwelling in which to store my stuff, sleep when I needed, go through those first stages of being “free”. The culmination of this period of “home”lessness ended at a place known as “Monster Mansion”.
By this point I was twenty-three, single, and a Police Officer. For those of you familiar with the writer Joseph Wambaugh, a former LAPD cop, Monster Mansion was the scene of many, many “choir practices”, complete with smoke grenades, 5 to 50 invited and some uninvited guests, and events lasting until the sun came up or the beer ran out. This disqualified the location as a home. It was fun, but not a home.
I moved “back” home when I got married. We bought a house in Massachusetts, the original plan being to stay five years or so. At 7 years, my daughter arrived. This was truly a home in the best sense of the word. Many things happened while we were there, many lasting memories were created. It was a great home. At 20 years we decided to build a new house
We left this home when I was forty-five.
This brings us to the last home. We have been there for almost eleven years. We contracted and had the house built, making some great choices and a few mistakes along the way, but ending up with a wonderful place, in a great location. The new house, indeed become a home.
We have now left this home, I am fifty-six.
I have spent fifty or so of my fifty-six years living in “homes”. In each instance there came a time when they were no longer my home. But they always became someone else’s home. There was continuity in purpose.
There is the old expression that “home is where the heart is”. I disagree, hearts sometimes make poor choices. Home is where you feel a sense of belonging when you are there, loneliness when you are away, and loss when you leave. Sometimes, you leave a piece of your heart behind.
So perhaps it is not that “home is where the heart is” but “home is where the heart remains”