Walking down the narrow corridor between the rows on an airplane, waiting as people delight in finding a space to hoist their large bags into the overhead. I find my row and settle in to my aisle (always aisle!) seat. I tuck my water bottle, iPad and Us Weekly (my little airplane indulgence) into the front seat pocket. I then turn my attention to the stranger beside me and we exchange the usual small talk:
“Economy Plus, so worth it.”
“Is this a full flight?”
“Oh no, a baby near us. I remember those days traveling with a baby.”
At some point in that interaction, I am asked the question “Where is home for you?”
The dreaded question. A dangerous opportunity to overshare. For the past 5 years I actually live in two homes. To avoid this I generally say, “Well, I live in Milwaukee now, but I work in Madison during the week” and deflect any further questions to the other person. It’s not even that simple. I left Israel last week not knowing whether I was leaving home or going home.
If the question was “where are you from?” there is always an easy, factual answer. Not so with home.
“Home is where the heart is” just doesn’t work because my heart is in many places. My heart is in every place where there are people I love, which means several continents.
Is it where you raise your kids and have their height tracked on the wall? Is it where you quantitatively spent most of your time? Is it found in a certain smell of someone’s skin?
The poet Robert Frost says “Home is the place that, when you go there, they have to take you in.”
I looked up the word for ‘many homes’, and for lack of a better word, I made up my own; polydomas, from the Latin word for home. I see myself as a person with many homes. I am polydomatic.
To the cynics in my life, it sounds absurd. I actually live in the house I grew up in. I had the same phone number until I got rid of my landline. Of all my friends, I left Milwaukee first, when I was 15 years old. And if you ask me or my parents, it has not been my home since. Physically at times, but not spiritually.
Looking at the word home, you notice it has the sanskrit word om imbedded in it. I never feel like I’m pronouncing it right in yoga classes; it is more complicated than it looks. To pronounce om correctly the sound vibration is pronounced “oom” as in home. Om is a sacred sound and is said to be the deepest universal vibration. Lovely how it is tucked into the word home.
I think home may not actually be a physical, stationary space. It may be the place where you, at a given moment, resonate most with the Earth beneath your feet. This is a more spiritual rootedness to a location based on internal cues.
It is no wonder that when we are frustrated with the computer, we just go to the home button. What was Apple thinking when they got rid of the home button? It is where you go when you are lost and unsure what to do next. It is a grounding place. From there you can venture off. Seeing the silhouette of the little house, that looks like a house you would draw in grade school, you know you’re going to be alright.