The place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household.
Of or relating to the place where one lives: “your home address”.
To the place where one lives: “what time did he get home last night?”
(of an animal) Return by instinct to its territory after leaving it: “geese homing to their summer nesting grounds”.
I never fail to get a lump in my throat when I drive away from my hometown; the place that I will forever call “home” when referring to it. Memories fill my car, making it hard to breathe, which makes me nostalgic, which then leads to me yearning for all of the things that are no longer in my grasp. I think of all of the ways my family and my home town and my friends have changed, and I think of the many ways I’ve changed. I think of the fact that some of the people and the places that I find dear may not be there the next time I visit, which makes my heart ache and the tears form.
Home: I try to think of the many meanings this one word encapsulates. The places I’ve called home, the people I’ve considered my home, the ways I’ve been at home in nature or in my body. Home as the place where I can be fully embodied as myself- the many faceted, wildly scattered, emotional bundle of me- and still be loved.
I try to remember that nothing is permanent, and that this is part of the wonderful mystery of life and this world. I try to remember the fact that this moment is the only true moment. I try to breathe in gratitude. I try to take it all in and recognize that I was not just formed by this place or by the village of my family. But all of this fails as the ghosts of my past buzz my car.
Usually, I take a detour past the home I grew up in, situated smack dab in the middle of a quaint little cul-de-sac in what used to be a very small town bordering the state line of Idaho. My breath usually catches when I turn onto the road and hear the familiar sound of gravel under tires. I eagerly take in the sight of the yard where I spent more hours than I could possibly count chasing dogs, playing with dolls, turning cartwheels, and digging in the dirt. I lean over to squint my eyes into seeing the space on the cement steps that hold the names of my siblings and me along with the paw print of our little dog. And then I pull away, pausing for a moment before turning back onto the road that follows the path of the Spokane River, windows down so that I can breathe in memories and listen for birds.
I think about balancing between leaving home and heading home. I think about birth and death and everything in between. I think about big things and small things, sticking my hand out the window to feel the dry air between my fingers, sensation of home.
There are several places I slow down, memories of my childhood self, scraped knees and uncombed hair, flooding my entire body. I slow down to stay in my hometown for even a few minutes more, and also to look at the places that helped to form who I am to this day, including my love of nature; the view of the dismantled bridge, the beginnings of trails I know by heart to this very day, the cove where I learned to swim.
And then I make my way to the Interstate, usually blasting music and wiping my nose with my sleeve. It takes a good twenty miles for the ghosts of my childhood to settle down and begin emptying from my car. Just in time for me to start digging into the bag of snacks my parents lovingly pack for me. Road spanning out in front and behind me as I settle for the long drive home.