I’m on my way…I’m coming home…
This weekend I spent time at my place in North Vancouver. I haven’t spent much time there in the last few months, but this week I’ve spent some time packing boxes, moving furniture and cleaning up. A little while ago, we made the decision to move in together, to share a front door. We both had our own places and the decision needed to be made…his? Mine? Or something completely different? After looking at what was available online, we decided that it would make sense to move into one of our currently established apartments, but redecorate it to make it “ours”. I wrote a pro-con list for both places and we took turns adding to the lists. In reality, right from the get-go, it made more sense for me to move into his place. It is closer to work, closer to my various gyms and activities, and closer to the vibe of the city. But on the paper I wrote, “my heart tug.” He looked at me, “you can’t leave your heart tug.”
The heart tug for me was that my apartment, tucked up on the hill in North Vancouver, was home. For the first time, in a long time, I had felt at home. It was all mine. Decorated how I wanted it to be decorated. All the closets were mine. Even the Recently Viewed list on Netflix was mine, consisting of “The Gilmore Girls” and “Nashville” and, of course, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” But it was more than that. It was a haven for me. It was safe. I called it my “zen den”.
The dictionary defines home as:
- a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household;
- the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered;
- any place of residence or refuge.
Of course, there are multiple other definitions but these were the ones that had meaning to me. Especially the word refuge. Refuge is defined as a place of shelter, protection or safety. Which for me is the essence of home.
When I was a child, coming home from school, meant a sanctuary from the outside world. At school, I had to be funny and friendly and upbeat and always trying. We all were. Trying to be ourselves, to be accepted. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say we were exploring. Figuring out who we are, who we wanted to be and who we would become. It was a lot of work. Trying to understand how the social world worked was no easy task for a child…it’s not an easy task as an adult. But I remember coming home at the end of the day. It meant sweatpants and headbands and quiet. It was safe, it was secure and I was protected.
There are so many books, TV shows, movies, songs that all speak about the search for or the act of coming home. Yet, it still seems like such an abstract concept. The most obvious definition is of a place…a couch, and a bed to lay your head at night. However, to me it is so much more than that. It’s a feeling, a somewhat abstract and indescribable emotional connection and belonging that brings a sense of calm, of contentment and an indelible knowledge that I am meant to be there.
I found that feeling in my apartment on the North Shore. After returning to Vancouver and feeling rather displaced, it took me some time to find home again. My first apartment, upon my return, was in the suburb that I had lived in prior to my international upheaval. It was a beautiful, brand new apartment, with a stunning view of the river. But it was not home. It was a place. It had my “stuff” in it and a bed to rest my head at night. However, it was not home. There were many times, that I did not want to go home. After work, on my drive back out of the city, I would experience increasing anxiety about returning to that apartment. Nausea and a deep-seated dread would settle in as I approached “home.” I knew I had to move, to find home, to find a space to feel safe in. I found it in that North Shore apartment. I also found that contentment within myself, home.
As we stood there looking around my now empty apartment, it no longer felt like home, it no longer held that heart tug for me. My heart tug was no longer attached to a place, it was attached to a dynamic, to family, to what I have found and co-created with my partner. Or my favourite weirdo, as I like to call him. Together we created a new space, a blending of the two of us, and a touch of Ikea. We have created and built a space together. A space where I feel safe, where I can be strong or fall apart, where I can be truly me and be truly with him. Where we can create family, belonging and connection. And I’m excited about the perpetual sleepover with my favourite weirdo!
At the end of my work day, I can’t wait to go home. Every time I walk through the front door, I breathe a sigh of relief, not only because I won the battle with the lock and key, but because I’m home. It means sweatpants and headbands and quiet. I’m safe, secure and protected.
“They” say, home is where the heart is, I say it’s where we are. Home is where love is…home is where I am at peace with me…home is where I can hold his hand. It’s what we have built and will continue to build together. We have conquered Ikea, we can conquer the world. I think Dorothy said it the best…
There’s no place like home!