(From: Fall 2013)
What is home? I thought I knew what home was.
Growing up, I lived on a little cul de sac in Simsbury, CT. It was one of those neighborhoods that people consider idyllic. Our street dead ended at a circle. We played kick ball there with our neighborhood friends. Then later…. It turned into Spin the Bottle!
There was never any particular time to come in after school… we just played until it got dark out… or someone’s mom said it was time to go in.
There were bike paths everywhere and everyone’s homes were considered open for bathroom emergencies and snack raiding! Everyone knew everyone. Stephen’s basement was where we listened to The Doors. Susan’s mom was the neighborhood baker… and we were the kids whose house you could easily sneak in and out of because it was a ranch… 1 floor…easy access to all windows!
My parents worked full time as successful Newspaper Publishers… and my sister and I had a southern black nanny named Annie-Mae Ellis.
Home was back flips over the couch in the living room. Roasting chestnuts in the fire. Playing Pong on TV… and Rummicube (the tile game) at the card table. Watching The Muppet Show on Sunday nights. Bringing my Dad and his friends’ drinks during poker games. The Red Hallway. Falling back to sleep in front of the heat vent in the bathroom before school. Mom putting on make-up and perfume before date night. That was home when I was young.
Then I went to college and my parents moved into their new West Hartford home. That never really felt like home… it was too fabulous to be home… but then again… it was really fabulous. Huge, modern, gorgeous and on top of a mountain. And nothing says home like an elevator!
Then multiple homes. College dorms, apartments, condos, 1st home in Fairfield and then my own West Hartford home. My family home. The home we worked on. The home we had our daughter in. The home we fixed up…painted…took family pictures in front of the home I lived in…
Until I got sick. In 2006, I had the worst 90 days of my life. Diagnosis, Divorce and Death. And when I was lying in the hospital bed I kept telling my Mom that I wanted to go home.
I’m sure she thought I wanted to go back to my house. Back to my husband and kids.
Then after surgery… I was laying in a hospital bed… actually, because I was paralyzed, strapped to my hospital bed. I would lay in the dark… alone… and kept saying into the darkness that I wanted to go home.
Then… Divorce. I would lay in my bed and tell my parents that I just wanted to go home. They would look at me funny and say, “Tracey…you are home.” I’m sure they thought it was my brain still recovering. Or, maybe… not recovering.
Then after my Dad was killed in the car accident… I stayed at my Mom’s apartment. I would cry late at night and wish I could just get home.
But I didn’t want to go back to the house. It didn’t feel like home.
My Mom asked if I wanted to go back to Simsbury… but that wasn’t it. I felt… well… homeless.
Then, Saturday night I was sitting on the balcony with Greg. And I looked at him and realized that he was my home. Home wasn’t a structure made of wood and windows.
It was where I “felt” home. Home was a feeling. It was safety and comfort and completion.
I always thought a home… was what I wanted when I was a grown-up. A place that I could decorate, paint and put all my stuff. I could buy a “real” couch… not the crappy college couch. I could make holes in the walls… and not fill them with toothpaste at the end of the year in order to get a safety deposit back.
But when I lost everything… truly everything… all I wanted was home.
Saturday night I realized what my home is… and I hope one day my kids read this and know that they should never settle for any other feeling than home. And they’ll know it when they feel it… because it will feel like they feel right now. It will feel safe and warm… it will feel like me. And that’s when they’ll know they found their true “home.”
I’m finally home… going to go enjoy it! Good Night!