Home. Clearly, this word means different things to different people. It means something different to me now than it did even two weeks ago, and that definition is far different than when I “left home” last August.
What defines “home”? Is home where you grew up, or where you feel most comfortable? Is it where you live right now, or is it where your family is? What if your family is all over? Is it where you feel at peace, or is it where you have the most fun? How many different homes can one person claim?
A few trips I’ve taken recently have gotten me thinking about this.
In my iTunes library, there are 41 songs with “home” in the title, and there are—whoa.
I stopped typing in the middle of that sentence to recount the number of “home” songs, only to accidentally double-click on the song “I’m Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee” by Raffi (a children’s music artist).
Before you finish reading this, go to a computer and look up this song on YouTube. I promise the next paragraphs will be more humorous if you know what I’m talking about.
Instantly, my headphones delivered the following lyrics to my unsuspecting ears, “I’m bringing home a baby bumblebee. Won’t my mama be so proud of me? ‘Cause I’m bringing home a baby bumblebee…buzz a buzz a buzz buzz—ouch! A bee stung me!”
I listened to all 1:54 of the song, only to discover that those are the only lyrics. Repeated. Over and over. With a key change—how fancy. I can’t believe my poor mother had to listen to this song over and over and over and over when I was little.
Anyway. Back to the 41 songs about home. I was interested to see what other people said about the place they considered “home.” I browsed through parts of some of the songs and found some interesting lyrics.
My friend Paula Carley is a really talented folk singer/songwriter and has a song called “There’s Just Something About Being At Home.” She describes “home” as a feeling of peace and contentment: “When I float in the water at the beach/I can reach the feeling of nothing at all/When I feel comfortably small/stretched out like a melted snow angel/Ohhhhh I am home.”
Switchfoot describes “home” as a place of belonging in their song “This Is Home,” “I’ve been searching/for a place of my own/now I’ve found it/maybe this is home.”
One of my all-time favorite artists, Ingrid Michaelson, has a song about home that’s really beautiful and soulful. It’s called “Are We There Yet?” and the first stanza sets the mood of the whole song: “They say that home is where the heart is/I guess I haven’t found my home/And we keep driving ’round in circles/afraid to call this place our home/Are we there yet?”
The image of a little kid in the back of a car anxiously asking, “Are we there yet?” comes to mind. I see the little kid feeling impatient with where he is, physically, and I imagine Ingrid feeling the same way in a more emotional sense.
The second verse has some of my favorite lyrics, “They say you’re not somebody/Until somebody else loves you/Well, I’m just waiting to make somebody somebody…soon.” In this song, home is with her love, and she doesn’t know who/where that is yet.
For me, this is the bottom line is the same: home is wherever I’m with the people I love.
Sometimes that’s an annoyingly familiar place like Hillsboro, with my wonderful immediate family.
I found out this weekend that it’s also Falls Church, Va.—where my dad grew up, where I’ve spent time as a kid, and where most of my cousins live.
Home is “The Island”—a family spot off the shore of North Carolina (bugs, spiders, slimy fish and lots of laughter).
Home is Denver, with my mom’s mom and sisters and fresh mountain air, where I spent some elementary school years and a lot of time snowboarding.
Home is North Park, with some of the most amazing friends I know I will ever have (yes, that’s you, Elle, Kate, Liz, Helen and KJ).
I wouldn’t say I feel equally “at home” at each of these places, but they each have certain qualities that feel “home-like” to me. It’s sort of hard to explain, I guess.
I think that Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes say it best in their song “Home”—“Home is wherever I’m with you.”