Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Home Is Where the Heart Is

I've been thinking a lot about the meaning of the word "home." I have of course recently moved from Illinois to Tennessee, and Tennessee is becoming more of a home now. But still, when I think about home, what do I think of and what place, if any, do I consider home?

They say (whoever "they" are!) that the place where you spent your junior-high-age years is the place you think of as home. So for me, that place would be Lexington, Kentucky. I suppose that in some sense, that is true for me; whenever I dream about "home," for example, it's always the house I grew up in, even if the dream is about me as an adult.

On the other hand, today as I was waiting for my lunch to heat in the microwave, I saw a package of Solo brand cups, which, I proudly thought to myself, were made BACK HOME IN URBANA, ILLINOIS.

Is Illinois home? I spent my first twenty-two years in Kentucky, and the next seven in Illinois. So maybe less than a quarter of my life was spent there, but those were some of the most formative years of my life: years in which I became a homeowner, an adult, a wife, and a citizen; years in which I finally developed my own opinions, self-confidence, and independence from my first family; years in which I overcame tremendous obstacles. So perhaps Illinois IS home to this version of me, because it's where she was born and raised.

In some ways I self-identify more as an Illinoisian. When people ask where we're from, I say Illinois, because that's where we moved here from. I compare everything here to the way things are in Illinois. Jeff and I refer to ourselves as "crazy Illinois drivers" when we brandish our aggressive driving skills on the polite drivers of Tennessee (of course, these aggressive driving skills were learned in Illinois!).

Kentucky seems kind of like a distant dream in some ways. It just doesn't have the same hold over me that Illinois does. Oh sure, my dad and bonus mom, my grandma, and a few friends from high school and college still live there and that draws me to visit occasionally. But every time I go back, there's something new and I don't feel like it's very familiar.

In time, I imagine that Urbana will grow and change without me, too, but there's still a big draw there that's lacking in Kentucky. I know we'll be back there for a visit on many occasions. This is the place, I'll tell my kids, where Daddy and I lived when I was in graduate school. This is the place where Mommy got her degree, but more importantly, where she grew up, where she learned more than you can fit in any book.

And after that, we'll go home, wherever that may be.


Laura said...

I think home must be where the Hart...man-Bakers are!

har har har har har

(couldn't resist a pun)

rachie said...

As long as it's not whee the FART is!

GreenDaddy said...

Hi. Just wanted to let you know I can relate to your post. Raj

Ginger said...

From a fellow crazy Illinois driver sister in law...Home is where your heart is. BTW, I hate when people say Illinoise too. Maybe together we can change that.