“’Tomorrow they’ll be so far,’ she said. ‘And we’ll just be here, isn’t that weird?’ ― always with a wistfulness that betrayed her envy of passengers traveling through the night at high speed. It was a mystery to Phoebe, her sister’s envy; why, when she and Faith were so clearly the winners, curled in warm beds, with Grandma’s rough starched sheets pulled tight across their chests? Given a choice, who wouldn’t choose home?”
The Invisible Circus
By Jennifer Egan
I’ve never read The Invisible Circus. I stumbled upon this quote while scrolling through blogposts last night and it hit me fair in the chest. Like right in the heart. I mean, who wouldn’t choose home? Right?
When Dorothy clicked her glittery red shoes and said there was no place like home, she was right. But she was right because home is less about a physical place and more about the people that make up your home - at least for me anyway. Home is where my family is, where my friends are. Home is where you feel comfortable and safe and happy (sometimes - you can be sad at home too). Home is where you don’t have to be anything but who you are. But sometimes, you need more than home. Or, perhaps more accurately, you need something different from home.
Many people are credited with scribing the adage home is where the heart is. It’s not one I particularly like, save for the obvious literal implications of home being where your heart is and your heart having to stay firmly inside your chest at all times regardless of geographic location. But also because it lends itself to the notion that home is a singular. I much prefer to think of it as a plural. For my own benefit, of course.
The thing is when you’re planning to leave home behind, and I’m not talking about the four walls and the roof kind so much as the country kind, suddenly the notion of home shifts and changes and expands to incorporate more than just a place of comfort and somewhere you can be you. It starts to be places and sounds and smells and tastes and things that can’t be boxed into anything.
Home becomes a subjective term when you leave it and set out to discover if it could mean something else.
I read a piece in The New Yorker last week about a man dealing with his mother moving - of her own volition I might add - into a retirement village of sorts. There was one line that captured quite succinctly what the notion of home in Australia means to me right now.
‘…the place I’ll always have to go back to in case adulthood falls through’
Kind of perfect, right?
Despite my preference for a plural, my idea that home becomes subjective and my willingness to leave it far behind, the truth is home for me is exactly that - somewhere I can go if being a grown up just doesn't work out.