I am at home. My children were born here, my parents and some of my siblings live here. I went to school in Washington State from the time I was a toddler through graduate school. I met my husband here, got married here, and many of my friends live close by. I am home without a home.
It is strange to return to somewhere so familiar without any place of my own to return to. It is also fascinating to be hereafter making a home in so many other countries because I see myself and my place here so differently.
I knew I would be home without a home so I borrowed one.
We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to rent a family home while they were in Europe. This home is different from a vacation rental or furnished apartment because we literally stepped into someone’s life. What that means is that we are surrounded by the sights and sounds of home that felt so distant just a week ago, such as:
- Spontaneous water fights during routine car washes
- The hum of the dishwasher as we nod off to sleep
- Keep out signs the kids made for “their” bedroom doors
- Family game night, complete with full-sized board games and big bowls of popcorn
- Flying kites with grandmom and grandpa
- The comforting tumble of the clothes dryer
- The familiar smell of the barbecue and the joy of realizing it is in “our” backyard
- Sidewalk chalk and hopscotch in the cul-de-sac
- English TV on a flatscreen!
- The sound of the neighbor’s lawnmower that announces the weekend
- The distant sound of the kids playing basketball in the driveway
- Baking cookies on a rainy Sunday afternoon
- Lemonade stands that have a line up the sidewalk
I have a new appreciation for a home that has nothing to do with ownership or fence lines. What I notice now, two years into this journey, are those moments I feel an overwhelming sense of comfort and safety. It has happened in many locations the world over. Today I feel an intense settling mixed with a desire to feverishly explore the place I grew up. I am just beginning to understand and fully appreciate my expanding definition of home. I am home without a home and yet I have never felt more grounded here.