Making Home

 

(My dream home is a secret garden. Shhhhh–don’t tell.)

 

I am a homebody. No two ways about it. Thank goodness I have a job that is means I get to spend lots of time in the place where I love.

Okay. That was totally a Freudian typo. I meant to type “the place where I live,” but see how it came out? This blog could end right here because you already know the punchline.

It’s become a greeting card cliché: My home is wherever you are. “You” being the beloved, singular or plural. That is true for me—for the most part. But there have been times when we’ve all been together in a place, yet I felt the absence of a real home.

I have a very hard time imagining what it would be like to not have a dwelling to call my own, let alone to not have a country to call my own. Every day that I read news of people losing their homes and security due to war or natural disasters, I feel the difference between us. Why, through grace, I’ve been given what I have, I cannot know.

The term “homemaker” has been a pejorative for most of my life, perceived as a role that’s not quite enough. Not quite productive enough or interesting enough, or creative enough. I don’t understand that. (Let me step back a moment and say that I have known people—women, particularly—who felt that they were not allowed or not qualified or not confident enough to do other things at the same time they were making a home. Whatever their reasons, it’s too bad, because while we all have roles in life, our roles do not define us. We all have a critical, internal need for self-expression and self-determination.)

Why would we look down on someone who cares enough to make one small corner of the world a place we’d want to return to again and again?

When we go out into the world, it can be an awfully cold place. Out there, we may not be accepted or understood. It’s not a safe world. (Okay, I’m known to be paranoid, but still…) It’s an unpredictable world. It’s often not a welcoming world.

A home is both a launching pad for taking on the unknown, and a safe haven. It may not be perfect. It may not be lovely or always tidy. The food may not be gourmet, but it feeds the soul. It may never meet everyone’s expectations, but a true home has a welcoming spirit for the people who live there. Bonus points if visitors feel welcome as well.

But a home doesn’t happen by accident. Someone has to care. You can’t have a home without love, or at least affection. It doesn’t matter if one person has the dedicated homemaker role, or it’s shared by other people living there—it’s all the same.

There have been times in my life when I lived alone, and I didn’t feel like I was home. But that was a long time ago. Back then I had no pets, no confidence, little happiness. I like to think that now, if I had to, I could make a home on my own: a place where I felt safe, where I could have empathy for myself if not complete understanding. I hope that I would care enough to make a home.

In the novel I’m working on now, nearly every action the protagonist takes is motivated by the loss of her home when she was much younger. Perhaps it feels powerful to me because of my attachment to my personal concept of home. I’m fascinated by stories of millennials who spend their lives moving from place to place, having only a couple suitcases full of belongings. Their focus is on experiences, not attachments. That’s another concept that feels very foreign to me. I love my people, I love my things (I probably have too many things, but I always have been a bit of a packrat.) I love my home.

 

What’s your concept of home? Is there a kind of home you yearn for?

 

January 29th    Words

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Exercise: 45 minutes exercise bike

7 thoughts on “Making Home”

  1. skyecaitlin says:

    I loved the novel, The Secret Garden, as a child. Laura; I live alone now, but I have known the sense of ;home; in the past, and what a difference. I am so curious whether your new book is part of the Bliss House group.

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      No, this new book had no connection with anything Bliss House. Something completely new. That’s not to say I won’t revisit Bliss House in the future, though.

      1. skyecaitlin says:

        Thanks for letting me know; You’ve written four Bliss House books, the fourth is to be read fourth?

        1. Laura Benedict says:

          Cold Alone is a long-ish short story, Skye. If you don’t have it and already subscribed to my newsletter, let me know and I’ll send you a link. (Subscribers get it for free right now.) But you can read the books in any order. Although there are some crossover characters, they’re not so integrated that you can’t skip around.

          1. skyecaitlin says:

            That’s very kind, Laura, and it does clear up things for me. I believe I subscribed to your newsletter ( I received one last week and you were talking about your nomination), but I don’t read e-books.

          2. skyecaitlin says:

            I buy all my books only from Barnes and Nobel.

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