Monday, October 8, 2012

"There's no place like home" ... but where's home?

“Where are you from?” was not designed to be a difficult question. But it’s a question I heard a lot this weekend. My husband and I attended our son’s baseball parents’ weekend at Mississippi State University. Most of the folks, naturally, were from Mississippi. And we’re from…. ?

On the roster, it says my son is from Potomac, Maryland. That makes sense, as he was only with us here on Treasure Island for two weeks. But he doesn’t have an address or a place to call home in Maryland, anymore.

I still tell people I’m from Maryland. When I meet people in Florida, it’s the first topic of conversation, and many of them are from other places, too. In Mississippi, I explained that we live in Florida now but we are from Maryland. After all, I lived there almost my entire life. I’ve only had a Florida driver’s license for a little more than two months.

How does one transition from being from one place to another? I still read my hometown newspaper every day (granted, it’s a little different on my iPad.) I follow the D.C. news station on Twitter. I keep up with local gossip from all my Facebook friends back home.

I lived in that house in Potomac for 12 years – the longest I’d ever lived in any single home. In the summer, the top floor was way too hot. It had a tendency to lose power during snowstorms and thunderstorms, and it took forever for the power to come back on. One winter we were trapped there for three days without power with two feet of snow on the ground, and the temperature in the house got down to 35 degrees. I hated the house during that time. But it was mine.

This house in Florida isn’t mine. Of course it’s not because we’re renting it. But we also got rid of all our furniture and rented the home fully furnished. I had loved the furniture we had bought over the years – the tiled kitchen table, the sectional sofa with the marble coffee table. There’s nothing in this house I would have ever bought myself. (OK, the furniture in the movie theatre is pretty cool.)

Plus, since I don’t know how long we’ll be staying (for various reasons, one out of our control, we may not be here the full year), I’ve only unpacked a few family photos and none of our artwork. We still have a room filled with boxes. It’s hard to feel at home when you’re not completely unpacked, and when the landlord’s giant painting of angry lions stares at you from across the hall.

And of course, how could this place feel like home when my son isn’t here? In an odd way, I think that helps with not missing him so badly. I don’t have 12 years of memories of eating dinner together at that table, watching TV together on that sofa. He was only here with us for two weeks and spent most of that time at the gym. He has a room here, of course, but since it’s not his furniture or his posters, it doesn’t feel like his. I’m sure if we were still in Potomac, I’d be going into his room every day and missing him terribly.

Strangely enough, the dog has made herself at home quite easily. She has a favorite perch. She enjoys guarding the front door. And she very much prefers the back yard, with the pool, the dock and the fence that allows her to run around unleashed. It is her home and she isn’t going to let anyone forget it. I guess wherever Tom and I are, that’s home to her.

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