Sometimes when the kids and I are heading home in the car – usually in the evening after a long day at work and school – Jenna will switch the music to “Take me home, Country Road” sung by John Denver. Then all four of us proceed to sing along at the top of our voices, usually extremely off-key. I’ll look in the rear vision mirror and see my usually taciturn sons also singing and trying not to smile. It’s always one of the best of times.
I think we all feel it – that sense of coming home. I’ve devoted a whole blog to how special it is to me. Obviously it’s more than just a house. It’s also the environment – the hills, trees, bushland, gardens. It’s the physical items that are here – from family to furnishings. It’s the intangibles as well – the sense of comfort, peace, freedom and security, and of belonging.
When I consider that list above of what constitutes home for us, I wonder whether “home” would still be defined if any of it was missing. I would miss the environment and there are certain furnishings I would miss if I didn’t have them, mainly my piano. However I believe I could still in time feel “at home” without those things; we adjust and adapt. If my kids and pets weren’t here though, I wouldn’t feel as if I was ‘home’ – and I say that confidently as Yogi snores beside me right now, and the kids chat to each other while playing some game on the Xbox. Home would also not be ‘home’ without that indelible sense of peace, security, freedom and belonging. In their place would be truly a sense of emptiness and infirmity; it’s not called homesickness for no reason.
It almost seems to be an instinctive urge – that desire to return home. And when I contemplate instinct I personally think of animals. As we seek a definition of what is ‘home’ to human beings, we could study the behaviour of cats and dogs – we’ve all heard stories of those animals travelling long distances to just to get home. However they do it for different reasons – for dogs, it’s to return to their owner – their ‘pack’. For a cat, it’s to return to its territory (sorry, cat lovers). However, beyond both urges is the desire for security – dogs find it with their pack, cats find it in their territory. And with security comes survival.
Maybe it all comes down to that – the very basest of instincts – survival. That’s what ‘home’ is.
Whatever the reason, there’s no place like it, as Dorothy said. At the end of the day, figuratively and metaphorically, that’s what it’s all about.