For the past several days we've been on the road, or to be exact, 2801 miles of road. We traversed Eastern Washington and passed through Idaho. We drove through Wyoming's snowy mountain passes as well her wide open rangelands and then we headed back home via the beautiful big sky country of Montana. An incredibly scenic drive, but this whirlwind tour was for business not pleasure so we saw the sights at 75 mph and in the evenings when it was time to pull into our lodging for the night, I found my thoughts falling onto the word "Home".
My Webster's dictionary defines the word Home as "The place where one lives", but it seems to me that the contemporary definition would be a bit more nebulous. Is it family that makes up a Home? Is it a house or some other type of abode? Maybe it has to do with where you keep your prized possessions? Maybe Home really is just "where you hang your hat", but the definition of "Home" has been shifting for generations. Perhaps the word always has been an intensely personal one, but as our society has become increasingly transient, uniquely different meanings of the word continue to evolve. Yet regardless of definition, simply utter the word and the same sense of peace and comfort inevitably applies.
Though there are many who still cherish the comfort of a home they've known for a lifetime, there are just as many on the move, intrigued by exploration or transplanted by employment. On our recent journey, a young Russian woman served us breakfast in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and at our breakfast stop in Casper a delightfully effusive waitress regaled us with her tale of moving to Wyoming via Florida. At a coffee shop in Cheyenne our friendly barista was from Orange County, California and in Bozeman, Montana our hotel clerk was from Dusseldorf, Germany. Never able to resist a used book store we also stopped at The Used Book Barn in Bozeman. The owner told us that seven years prior, he and his wife moved to this town that they are now happy to call Home after living in Las Vegas for fifty years. I find it interesting that not only do we each have our own unique sense of Home, but who's to say when that definition might change?
For me, Home means a couple of things; it just depends on how I say it. If I say I'm going "Back Home", it's understood that I mean Kentucky. If the adage "Home is Where the Heart is" ever needed a further explanation, this would be my personal attempt. Kentucky is where I grew up and where my early memories reside. It is also where my parents and my family still live, a place where I know I will always be loved and welcome. When I speak generally and simply say "I'm going Home", it is understood that I mean home in Entiat. Entiat is where I currently live with my husband and my dogs. It's where I am comfortable enough to let my hair down and put my feet up. And yes, it is where I keep the things that bring me contentment, my comfy bed and pillow, my photographs, my many books…
At the risk of wandering too far into the quixotic, my favorite way to illustrate the word Home comes from an Emily Dickinson quote, "Where though art, that is home." I've been fortunate to find a spouse who agrees that Home is ultimately any environment that enables us to be fully ourselves and happy together. Isn't that really what we all strive for after all? A place to lay our heads while on our personal trek toward the Pursuit of Happiness?
I've moved quite a bit in my life and I do love to travel, but sitting here at this moment with my feet in my comfy slippers, my dogs curled up in little balls silently sleeping and my husband across the room reading, I realize that I know a secret. It's the one that Dorothy knew all along, but didn't realize until she clicked her heels together. Regardless of definition, wherever I roam, there's no place like home.