Our childhood home was a house in a rural neighborhood outside of Tomah, Wisconsin. We grew up there, and while it wasn’t wildly populated, busy, or sprawling, it seemed like it encompassed my entire world. That is why it was particularly painful for me to have to move early in the year 2000.
Until that point, my idea of a home had been “the only place I’ve ever known.” Our home had my stuff, it had my memories, my few friends were nearby. We grew up there, I honestly had never considered that things could possibly be different.
Living in Washington was so different I almost experienced culture shock. Not trying to say things were harder for me than anyone else (it probably wasn’t hard for dad, he located a bowling alley the first day), but I also had to deal with a transition from elementary school to middle school.
During this time I didn’t really think of our new house as a home. It was our house. My home was left behind, and I’ve become some weird mullet-ed nomad (NOTE: I had a mullet).
During high school, and after I’d acclimated some to this weird crowd of kids, I had a new definition for my home. It was my home base, my return trip, “my grand intersection in my life”. I was busy with school, friends, clubs, girlfriends, and sometimes dealing with my sisters. I was comfortable at my place but my new definition for home was the place that I always returned to at the end of the day. It was my finish line.
After graduating high school I moved out with my girlfriend at the time. We had an apartment and it was pretty cool. I felt like a grown up. I was paying some bills, working my job, and asking my parents to fill up my gas tank. I mean, I was a pretty sophisticated adult.
During this period my home had become “the place I lived in.” It was as simple as that. My parents place was still a big intersection for the parts of my life, but now I lived elsewhere. I had my own place, so that must be my home.
My girlfriend at the time was that type of girlfriend where she kinda, sorta, maybe made me a worse person. She was very negative, and this negativity spilled over into my personality. This caused me to get into a fight with our room mate.
One day while I was hard at work, because of our fight, he had his family come over and remove all of the furniture from the common areas of the apartment. In his defense it did belong to him.
I then learned that my concept of a home could be violated. My concept of a home could be torn down by something external. The remainder of the time I lived there I didn’t feel safe, secure, or even comfortable because my angry roommate decided that scorched earth was better than being adult. He had effectively come into my safe zone, and stole my soundness of mind from me.
After my girlfriend became tired with me, I had to move back into our parents house. But I didn’t immediately become my new home. It felt alien and cold. I was pointedly moving back into my parents house. I had given up my room to go have my own place. I had established a home, and it was violated. Its a feeling I’ll never, ever forget.
Luckily I was distracted with college. I had classes to slack off in, and tests to ace. My teachers were frustrated. I was pumped. During this time I also worked, hung out with buddies, and had another bitch girlfriend. I still lived with the parents, and I became more comfortable. At this time in my life my home was my “retreat.” When I was tired, overwhelmed, stressed, mad, or sad, I could fall back to my safe zone. I could pull back from the front lines of my life and feel like I was in a place unassailable by the world.
Right now I’m in another transition. Things have changed. I do not currently have a definition of home. I would not confidently say that I have a place I call home. This isn’t a bad thing, but for me home is a place that has been left behind, taken from me, and violated. I’ll have to find somewhere that can be all of the previous things, but with something new.
I’m sure my next definition will have to be “where I have built my life.”