This is my neighborhood in early spring:
Taken just a few days earlier, this is a client's neighborhood in early spring:
Here's what you have to know: my client loves her neighborhood just as fiercely as I love mine. More. She loves it without lakes and ducks and communal flower beds. She loves it without a homeowner's association, without a patio set, without any strings at all attached.
If you're expecting me to tell you she loves it because she has known homelessness and she's grateful enough to love anything anywhere, you're wrong. The truth is, she begged for this apartment, this very one surrounded by the barbed wire wall and the crumbled pavement. Her unit is nice, but that isn't why she chose it over the one with the big kitchen, or the one beside the restaurant, or the freshly remodeled one with the comfortable balcony. She chose it because it was where she felt the most at home, and there's nobody walking the earth who can tell her differently. Maybe that's a clue that no one should. This is the place she feels the safest, the most accepted, and the most herself. She picked out this place because she wasn't just looking for a place to house her, she wanted a place that would be her home. Her home. Not mine, not for anyone else with their well-meaning raised eyebrows. Hers.
There are a lot of ways to define "home," and a great many of them have nothing to do with houses. A person could find a home of sorts in the people one cares about, the work we spend our time and energy devoted to, and in the little things we do that makes us who we are.
For me, wherever I am, I can feel utterly content if I can find enough peace and time to pull out one of my ever-present notebooks and a beloved pen to scratch out a few words that will either become something artful...or not. It sews my mind to my body, and keeps my feet on the ground. I love playing music, and know my instrument as intimately as my own limbs. No matter how long I let it lie fallow, playing it always feels like I have just thrown open the door to a place I've always known. I'm at home wherever Husband is, because the deepest, most neurotic parts of me settle down and purr when he's near. I love all that he is and I know as long as I can find him in the dark, I will never be lost. The point is not in where I am, but in who I get to be: freely, safely, happily myself.
What is your home like, both the one you live in and the one that lives in you?