Have you ever thought about how many stories, songs and themes revolve around the concept of home, and finding your way home?

The theme of “The Wizard of Oz” is summed up by Dorothy when she said, “there’s no place like home.” In “The Grapes of Wrath,” the family took to their car (their only home during the Great Depression) to seek a new home in California. The movie “Beautiful Girls” sees Timothy Hutton going home for his high school reunion. In my favorite television show, “The Killing,” the main character realizes that home was not a place; but was the feeling she had with the person who knew her best.

It’s nearly impossible to count the number of songs that speak to this theme. There’s “Homeward Bound” (Simon and Garfunkel), “Two of Us” (The Beatles), “You’re My Home” (Billy Joel), and “My Way Back Home” (Dawes), just to name a few. And let’s not forget the famous adages: “Home is where the heart is,” or “home is a state of mind.”

All these references and themes make me wonder if we have all — at some point or another — tried to figure out where we belong, and where home actually exists.

I’ve thought a lot about the concept of home and that journey toward it over the last year. For nearly all my life, San Diego was home. It was the place I grew up, where my family lives, and where I made a life for myself. And then I left it all behind when we moved to Indiana to — literally — make a life and home in a new city, state and house.

One of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve had in my life was driving four days across country, away from San Diego and toward Terre Haute. There was something incredibly freeing about knowing that all I had was the open road ahead and what was in the car with me. Even if I wanted to turn back, there was not a home to go back to (in the general sense). Our belongings were gone and the people and pets that mattered most to me were not there anymore. I don’t remember ever feeling that unconfined in my entire life — there was no going backwards; only forward, to a new idea of home.

We’ve been in Indiana going on nine months, and I’ve come to find that my core feels home. Not necessarily because of the physical structure I live in (but that helps too). It’s because my state-of-mind is here. I belong in this place — both physical and mental — with everything that symbolizes home to me.

But what has also solidified for me the idea that I’m home is how much has changed in the life I left behind. The home we lived in for 11 years does not have any resemblance of us. It’s occupied by someone else. Friends that I was close to in San Diego have also left to start life elsewhere. Restaurants we frequented every week have closed their doors. The elementary school we attended for three years has lost teachers and community members.

These observations are not meant to be depressing. They’re just symbolic of change and how life moves on, even if you’re not there. They’ve helped me realize that for me, home is not where I’m from; it’s where I am.

So what is home to me?

It’s the place where I am at peace, with myself and my surroundings. It’s where I feel calm. Home is the family I surround myself with each day, and the pets that follow me from room to room. It’s the few treasured items on my bookshelves and the music that plays while I write on this blog. And I know now, more than ever, that I am home.

“I admit that these answers that I seek
Are all to questions I’ve never known
But I pray to keep on looking for as long as I can roam
And when the world finally fulfills me
I will not forget my way back home.”

— Dawes (“My Way Back Home”)








12 Responses

  1. Beautiful post Leah. I’m so happy you are content and at “home” in your new home in Indiana. I’ve admired how you and your family have made such an effort to get to know your new surroundings and really become part of the community. Dallas has always been my only real home — I’m not sure I ever thought of Chicago during my college years that way despite having the time of my life — but sometimes I long for the adventure of making a new place home with my my family. Perhaps one day!

    1. Thanks so much, Caryn. That’s awesome that Dallas is your home and that’s where you feel you belong. That’s what it’s all about!

  2. Stand in the window of the room directly above the front door, and look at the pavers around the base of the Bradford Pear tree in front of you. Do you see what I mean? Home is where the heart is, and it sounds like you have found your niche, the place that your soul calls home.

    I left California in 2003, and though I have built a life with people I dearly love since then, there was a part of me that never felt “settled”, there was always something restless in me. In 2013 I went on a road trip with the family to coastal Maryland, and it hit me, that piece that was not present: the ocean. As we headed home to the midwest after that trip, every mile between me and the ocean felt like another weight, and when we arrived home, the serious discussion about getting back to a coast began.

    I find something extremely satisfying and poetic that our mutual journey resulted in places that feel more like home. Maine and I? We click. I am happy to be 45 minutes from the ocean again, and there is something about here that makes me content from the inside out.

    1. I could not agree with you more, Katie, about our journeys. I feel like it was fate, us “following you” from California to Indiana and settling in this house. And I use the office that looks down on the pear tree and heart rocks as my office too. It’s my favorite spot in the house because of the window light and the view below!

      1. Yay! I am thankful for social media, since it took you from an abstract to a person.

        If you are interested, I still need to get you info on the roses, the butterfly garden, abmind the herb garden. Your little one will get a kick out of the caterpillars!

  3. Well you know I can sort of understand. The problem is that I felt that feeling of home as soon as we got to San Diego. You would think being born in Alabama that would be the place. I remember moving to Seattle and thinking this would be perfect because I was an, “I’m only happy when it rains,” sort of person then. I have to admit there was something perfect about our time in Seattle, but like your story, so much has changed since then. Then there was San Diego. I remember telling my Mom that every place I went smelled like air freshener. I spent the first week of our stay in a hotel thinking I was smelling someones dry sheets through the vents outside. Then one day I figured out that there were flowers everywhere and this wasn’t a fake smell I was smelling, this was the real deal. The friendships I made there were the most balanced I have ever had. I tell myself part of it is because of the time of life. I met people who were also raising kids and we bonded over the struggle 🙂 . But there is more. My Christian friends there are some of the strongest Christians I have ever met. The want very much to reflect Jesus to people and not just follow a man made rule to look good to others. I think maybe that happens because percentage wise there are fewer of them there than in other places. It makes the bond tighter and allows us to be honest when holding each other accountable. And of course there are just SO many different types of people. I love that. I have learned so much from people who have experienced a life would not have know about without knowing them. And, sort of like the comment above, there is something about the land itself. I love seeing all the hills and valleys, the ocean and the dry rocky areas. I think my heart is most at home in San Diego. Granted this is all fresh for me and I plan on being here for some time, but I also plan on going home one day. I will swing by Terra Haute on the way. :o)

    1. I know what you mean about Alabama. Even though I spent the majority of my life in San Diego, I never felt like that was where I belonged. Of course my family is there and all my history, but my soul never felt settled. Even though I left San Diego before you, knowing you were leaving was one of the things that made me feel like San Diego and my community had changed since I left. I miss you, and hope to see you again soon! And I hope that you find happiness in Alabama.

  4. Leah – I so can relate to the feeling of freedom you experienced setting out on that open road to your new home … Went through a similar transformation and never looked back once! https://emjayandthem.com/2012/05/22/when-you-know-for-sure/

    I am so happy you feel “home.” It’s not a feeling everyone I know actively seeks – so when someone writes about the journey as beautifully as you did, it resonates.


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