A Bit of Background
It never occurred to me that I could live another lifestyle other than the one in which I was raised. Thus far, I have had only a taste of this differing lifestyle, a very uniform way of living that, for some, have been their entire upbringing. I guess I grew up in a pretty traditional home, by most standards: both parents worked, came home every evening from the office to their three kids, we'd have dinner – a 'normal' life. My siblings and I went to regular schools, with regular kids. When I got to college, I should have known what the concept was behind home and family. By then, I could have argued that home is wherever I make it; however, I've remembered, again, a few more years later, that you never get too old to stop learning.
In my case, I'm relearning and reevaluating my standards and viewpoints on a certain topic. It wasn't even until freshman year that I had met, or knew what an ROTC program was. There, I met fellow students that came from mixtures of backgrounds: divorced parents, public schools vs. private schools, differing religious views, all of it. And I also met people from homes where their fathers and mothers didn't always come home every night; in fact, they only came home every six to eight months. So naturally, it was difficult to relate to these kids. I had never been in their position, or anything close to it, until recently.
We have a fascination with idea revolving around what it means to have a home, keep a home, be at home. It seems, we're very concerned about the place where we plant our roots. The problem, however, arises when for whatever reason, we all, at some point, must pick up and move on – Dad gets a better job in the neighboring state, sister goes off to a far away university. So, where is home then? Surely not a physical place; we can go from house to house. The question, then, is: WHAT is home? About a year ago, I had to ask myself this question, for the very first time. Having lived in the same city my entire life, it never occurred to me that home could be anything else besides a structure surrounded by a fenced yard and a mailbox with your name on it, where you hosted numerous family gatherings, and can remember small details about how the floors got chipped, and furniture destroyed by toys and food fights. It never dawned on me that there could ever be another definition or image behind the word, nothing that would suggest different views than my own.
My reason for having to move, literally, across the country is that I married into the Military, and for the first time, I was leaving my “home base”. All of our family, all of our friends, everything we knew was in one place. We had our favorite restaurants, best store to buy used DVDs, baristas in numerous cafes knew us by name, drink, and favorite color. But in our new state, we had to learn the street maps, where the best place was to buy groceries, and – very importantly – where the nearest Starbucks was. Slowly, the weeks went by, and things started to become easier to find, people become familiar faces, we became more accustomed to our surroundings.
And then, one day, I figured it out. By no means was it an amazing epiphany; the skies didn't open up and the earth didn't quake. Even so, I was surprised that I hadn't thought of it before: I had, in fact, moved here with my family. My husband was my family now; at this point, we had only been married a few months, so the concept was still new to me. The fact that he was (is) my closest kin had yet to sink in. So then, I realized that I could go anywhere and do anything, but if he wasn't there, then it didn't and wouldn't feel like home.
So, it was safe to argue that I was at home around familiar people; I was at home around my family, and I was – most importantly – at home around my husband. Ironically, the next time he asked my if I was starting to feel more at home was a few days later. Driving back from the grocery, we had almost begun to run out of things to talk about, at least, during the car ride. But then he brought it up: “So, do you thing you're adjusting ok? I mean, is it starting to feel, I dunno, homier?” And I told him the truth: that no matter the physical location, as long as he was there, then that was home.
“YOU are my home.”
It took me 23 years and 2,000 miles to work it all out, but better late than never. And so I learned: home-sweet-home is where my family it; it's where my heart is.