My son and daughter are moving back to Illinois from Oregon. Today, they’re staying at my mother’s house. My daughter is probably sleeping in my old room. They are probably going to church with my mother and then to the Farmer’s Market. I close my eyes and see them perfectly. I see my mother’s house in detail. I can close my eyes and see each house I grew up in with the sharpest clarity…except maybe the one I lived in first and moved out of when I was 4. I know the smells of “home”…my mother sauteing onions in butter and vermouth at suppertime, the rosemary in the front yard and the lemon tree out back, and star jasmine. I remember the faint mildew smell of the basement of the old house, and the smell of the dirt in the crawl space beneath her California home. “Home” has always been accessible to me through my senses and memories, even when I felt very far away. I knew what I longed for and where it was. Today, my youngest will escape her city apartment and come visit us. She has had a rough few weeks and feels the need for “home”. I wonder how to provide “home” now that I’ve sold the house they all grew up in. I wonder how and where we will gather as an entire family. I am so excited that we will be all in the Midwest soon! I’m hoping for a Team Galasso outing on October 2 for the Step Out Walk for Diabetes. (more about that later) I’m hoping for a Christmas gathering. It is up to us to redefine “home”. What are the essentials?
I think of the elements of my home visits, like looking at photographs. The snapshots and albums I have are in storage. The accessible photos I have are on a thumb drive I can plug into this laptop. How about singing around the piano? Marni’s piano, which is now Susan’s, is in the home of one of her college friends. The big family bed? That’s in Emily’s apartment. Well, dang. Ah, but here’s the very thing. The dining room table. My grandmother’s cherry table is here, waiting. Being together at table is one of the most essential “home” activities. The chance to nourish our bodies with food, our minds with conversation, and our souls with love and acceptance is what wanting to come home is about to me. I was invited to Emily’s home for Mother’s Day this year. She had just moved into her apartment and didn’t have a table yet. You know what? We don’t even need the table. The meal, the talk, the physical connection, maybe that’s all “home” is. The stuff in our lives keeps changing. I have given up trying to keep that together. I want always to provide the experience of being “home” nevertheless. Maybe it’s just being present with each other. Being as aware as we can of ourselves and the “thou” across from us, being honest and authentic and paying attention, and holding space for each other, respectfully and lovingly.
So, what is “home” to you? Is there meaning in that word? Is it one of those “values” we made up so that we can find ways to be guilty or judgmental or isolated or needy or consumers? Is planet Earth a “home”? What would that mean?