What is Home?

Abandoned home
“Abandoned Farmhouse Mid West”
Photograph by Suzanne Lorenz

Home is sometimes identifed by the land or place you live, a house, an area, state, or country, or even a feeling inside ourselves. Home for my ancestors began in what is now Europe. In the 1850’s my dad’s people emigrated to a small region in Missouri and stayed there. A hundred years later, in 1954, my dad migrated to California, the only member of his family to do so. My mother’s side of the family emigrated from what is now Ireland a hundred plus years earlier to Appalacia, then migrated throughout the south and the midwest until my mom settled in the west with my dad. Their early lives together were filled with moving from place to place due to my dads career in the Navy. By the time I was five I had moved five times to five different states before we settled in a small town in Northern California. I’ve often wondered, did my dad think of California as home or Missouri? I don’t know. My mom was always clear, her family was home to her.

Where is my home? I wanted to explore this question so I invited a number of family and friends to share what they thought home was. I also asked them how they wanted to be identified. Here are their answers.

“Home to me is a place between my ears, near the front of my forehead. It is the place where I become conscious of my needs. A place to breathe, a place to reflect, and a place of harmony. It is the space I use to set myself right, to know I am safe, and to create loving thoughts. When I open my eyes, I see a shadow.” Jean, retired, living in Ecuador.

“Home to me is my house. It’s my home base: the place that I leave to experience the rest of the world, but the place I always come back to. And when I get back, there’s no better feeling in the world.” Jessica, 29, Pacific Northwest

“I define home by the walls I construct around my body and the shape of the key I use to transgress them.”
Adrian Astur Alvarez, Home Page

“Home is being with my three children and six grandchildren —anywhere we are is home then and I am filled with joy even when things get bumpy.” June Gillam

“Home is feeling the power, love and spirituality from 56,000 people from all over the world at the AA Convention. People who overcame tragedy with spirituality. That is love. That is home.” Susan, Business Owner

“Margo, Ashland, home is where it’s safe to be me… home is where my dog is.”
Tori Davis

“Home is family. Home is a constant. Home is my safe place. It’s where I can have fun working on projects, playing music, or visiting with family and friends. There are many memories that I associate with our home, especially memories of raising our daughter. I always wanted her to enjoy the stability of being raised in the same house and also being able to come back home to the same place she grew up.” Dave Lorenz

“Home is like your house. My parents and my dogs and us kids. All the stuff in your home. There’s a chair and a bed and a basement, sometimes toys and lovies that I sleep with.”
Róisín, age 5 1/2

“I don’t have a lot of thoughts about home except to say that for me it would have to be a place within of peace and quiet joy.  A still chateau.”
Esther Saunders

Clouds Heaven as Home

“Clouds” Photograph by Suzanne Lorenz

“I have two homes. My architectural home shelters my body and affords me physical comfort, privacy and protection. My body houses the metaphysical space within me, and provides me with the faculties to experience the life force that animates me.”            Terrell Lozada, artist

“I grew up in a military family and we moved around the country—and around the world—quite often. Sometimes we stayed put for three or four years, other times we moved again after six months. As a result, I felt at home nowhere…and felt at home everywhere. Family was my only home. Wherever my mother was, that was home. Today, my mother is 87, with advanced Alzheimer’s. Every day I drive accross town to feed her lunch and sit with her until she falls asleep for her nap. And every day I am with her, I am home.” BJ Gallagher, author of “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Other Women”, Los Angeles, California

“Home for me is a feeling, before it is a shelter, an address, or simply a place of origin. Home is a feeing of contentment, being at center, a feeling of familiarity. Examples of home as shelter, an address, or simply a place of origin: 1) I am finally settled in here, and it’s now more ‘home’ than ever. 2) I’ve moved around over the years, but my home address is _____. 3) Nice to meet you…where’s home?(as in ‘where are you from?’)” Phil from Seattle

“Home can be a place but for me it is a feeling.  I know it is not where I was raised, so ‘going home’ isn’t the place. I am ‘at home’ when I feel comfortable physically,emotionally and spiritually.” S. Irwin

“I will NOT say ‘home is where the heart is’- seriously. However that’s pretty close to what I feel. My lifestyle has led to my having numerous structural “homes” over my 70 years of life. While appreciated, the houses never had a place in the scheme of things that was that important to me. Four walls is just that- pleasing and comfortable and fun to decorate but nothing I gave my heart to. Also I’ve been fortunate to travel extensively in my life- which requires an immediate “re-nesting” each time I reach another destination. I immediately feel at home when I settle in for the night for however long my stay is.
However I would say that my primary home is a state of mind when I’m with my family- as individuals or when we are all together. That gives me the feeling of being “home” as no actual structure or geographical location ever has.”
You can call me Sandra, your sister!

(Sung to Home on the Range)
“Oh give me a car
And the time to go far
With the woman I love most of all.
Oh give me the road
I’ll lighten my load
And answer that old highway call
Home, home on the lam
And I’m happy as one happy clam
With my gal by my side
And the miles rolling by
And home’s any place where I am.”
Sam, musician, business owner, living in two states


“Another Road” Photograph by Suzanne Lorenz

So, now, for me, what is home? Home is feeling balanced in mind, body and spirit. My physical home supports that by being visually and asthetically beautiful. Home is full of light, color and space and surrounded by trees and green. It is a place to put my personal icons. Home is where I feel safe and secure. Home is where I refresh and reengergize. Home is where the man I love lives. Home is where I share my space with my children, grandchildren and close friends. Home is where music is heard and played.

What about you? What is home to you?

4 thoughts on “What is Home?”

  1. At first I thought home was a location, with people I love in, near, close to it. But now I know that home is a letter from my best friend, it’s a homemade meal from my husband, it’s the way my son grabs me around my neck, it’s the laughter during storytelling…those people, moments, and things give me that sense of belonging, feeling known, and comfort that makes up “home” for me.

  2. So interesting. To me, home is very much a place versus other people, things or feelings. That place for me is the United States, then the larger Pacific Northwest, then Washington State, then Seattle, then Capitol Hill, then the border of the Stevens/Hilltop/Miller Park neighborhood I live in and then down to my two street’s intersections, but I don’t want to put that on the Internet.

    If for any reason I was forced to live in Fremont, Wallingford or any other Seattle neighborhood, I would not feel like I was home, even though I am still in Seattle. I would always feel like I needed to get back to Capitol Hill. I imagine if I woke up for some reason, even in a really nice house somewhere else in the city, a Craftsman or a Foursquare, I’d still feel like, “that’s nice, but I need to go home now.”

    And even if everyone I knew left the city, I’d still feel this way.

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