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A fellow teacher friend assigns her students the task of interviewing people of different ages. They ask questions about life, seeking advice and different points of view. I have done these interviews numerous times over the years, but was taken back by an interesting new question they posed: “What is home?”Without thinking about my answer, I immediately responded,” Where I am centered.” They looked up from their paper and put down their pen.
There was an awkward pause.
“ Oh…. Most people say the town where they grew up, or their husband or wife.”
That is the obvious answer, and a good one, and at one time I would have said that too.
I didn’t know how to explain to a 16 year old that yes, that’s true, but I know better now.
I have lived in many places, each different and special to me. They have all been home.
Home has been the people I’ve loved. Some have come and gone, those who helped me to understand what love is, and some who showed what it is not. They came to me as a messenger at the right time. And there were a few who were sent to show me loss and the fragility of life.
I carry it all with me, they go where I go.
They were with me in my old house, and now in my new one.
When I am swimming in the ocean, staring at the moon, and as I hike in the woods,
these things are connected to me.
They are me.
I am better for knowing all of the people and places I loved. I am at peace with it, and it is this peace inside of me that is home. It’s not found anywhere else,and it has taken me
a long time to get here.
Sticking to my answer, I turned toward the student and repeated:
“ Home is where I am centered. Hopefully, someday you’ll understand.”
Above: Detail images of recent work in progress, Pennsylvania (left) and Vermont (right)