Thursday, June 19, 2008


One of my favorite sites, Virtual Tea House (which I've joined but still am unable to log in nonetheless), is having an essay contest on "Where is home?", and I've decided to pitch in:

Home, of course, is where we belong. Home is something that gives us that indelible feeling of comfort and ease.
Is it a place?
Not necessarily. A place, no matter how beautiful or familiar, can still leave us feeling lonely, if it is empty, or make us uncomfortable, if populated with disagreeble people.
So home is, probably, people that we feel we belong with. These are the people with whom we can disrobe our soul and not feel naked. These are the people who know us through and through and still love us, and we repay them with the same.
Or, maybe, home is that special soul in our lives, whose presence engulfs us with comfort and warmth. If we are lucky to know such person, we would feel at home whenever and wherever we can hold his or her hand, be quiet together or laugh together at whatever silly comes to mind.
I left my country long time ago. Then, 11 years later, a month after the honeymoon with my first husband, I went back for a visit. It took 3 days for me to re-orient myself. I actually went right past the house I grew up in. It was my uncle who stopped me, and took me up to the communal flat on the fifth floor, which used to be my home. An old lady opened the door. "Oh, my! Ella!", she exclaimed, embracing me. It took a while for me to surmise that she was the mother of two kids who were my childhood playmates. She has not seen me since I was 10 y.o., and managed to recognize me 20 years later!
As she was chatting, filling me in on what happened since I moved away, I was finally slipping into the Familiar we call "Home". From that moment on, I was to enjoy my Motherland for the next month. I was so happy there, my new husband got afraid that I might not come back! And it's true, if I was not happily married then, I might have chosen to stay.
But, at the end, it was he, who was my home then. So I flew back into my husband's arms.
I never went back to Russia since. My family and friends all moved away. So coming back would be staring at houses filled with my memories but inhabited by complete strangers. So it is no longer my home.
Now I live in a beautiful apartment in New York. But as much as I like it, I can easily envision some other place I could live in.
In fact, just recently, I went back to the yoga retreat in the Bahamas, which I have not visited for more than 5 years, took a dip in the ocean, and exhaled as if I finally went home... It felt so good, so familiar, as if that water was where I truly belonged! Or was it That Beach? Or was it the Yoga Retreat behind me?
I do enjoy that place immensely, coming back every now and then when my batteries need recharging. But living there all the time?
I don't think so. They don't allow coffee there.
I know, I cannot envision anyplace I would be living at without my son. He is my home now.
But, one day, he will move away... Would I become homeless then?
Of course, not!
I carry my Home, wherever I am, like a snail! Or, rather, He carries me in His arms as I move through my days. I feel His Presence always. I talk to Him whenever I want.
And, when I quiet my thoughts, I hear His Silence, and we both smile of joy. He talks to me all the time too. He talks through other people, signs, feelings, dreams, "coincidences", and, sometimes, even whispers words in my ear. He touches me with sunshine or rain, plays with my hair on windy days, and always leaves me little presents wherever I look: my orchid's blooms, a passerby's smile, a rainbow in the sky... When I am down, he makes me laugh, whether by sending a clown into the train car I am riding in, or by giving something silly to me to read, or by sending a friend my way. When I am scared, he always finds a way to remind me that every fear is "a monster under the bed".
He is my True Home, because he knows me better than anyone, and still loves me more than anyone; because, as people and places change in my life, He is always here, the Nearest and the Dearest.

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