There’s No Place Like Home

I’ve found myself contemplating what “home” is a lot lately. After moving so much growing up as a military nomad, I’d always yearned for somewhere to settle down– to know people as I went about my daily meanderings and have a place to call mine. I’ve always envied people who have best friends they’d grown up with, gone to the same church their whole lives – perhaps the one their parents and grandparents grew up and got married in, had a childhood house and knew someone almost everywhere they went. I’d always dreamt of this little Mayberry– that someday I’d find this place. You see, when you move every two years, or less, you never have those lasting relationships with anyone outside your family. Don’t get me wrong, family is the most important, but friendship is an important part of the human experience too.

After a few moves as I got older, I had just succumbed to the fact that I’d never have a true home. That made me feel a sense of anger towards my parents for the life we had. I know that sounds awful, it’s hard to admit, but I did. I wanted ‘normal’, I craved routine and a sense of comfort that I was convinced came in the pretty packaging of a hometown. Now, before you write me off as an ungrateful and inconsiderate person, please know that my period of said anger and distress didn’t last long.

I distinctly recall talking to my Maw-Maw about this. Her perspective is something that my parents had attempted to communicate numerous times before, I just wasn’t listening. Maw-Maw grew up in a small Illinois town where she knew just about everyone, her family had lived there for as long as she could remember. Everything was familiar and, for the most part, routine. Familiarity equals comfort, home, right? When she married Paw-Paw, the Navy sent them away from their “home” and they got to see the world. She gave me new perspective- I had an epiphany. I got to see different cultures and places, eat and experience different amazing things. If I’d grown up in the same town, I may or may not have been given these experiences. Who is to say that we would have had the means to travel the way we did if we’d lived in one place? I can tell you, I doubt we would have.

I started to realize that not only was my Dad serving our great country, but as a passenger on the train, my family was given opportunities to see the world beyond our bubble. I learned to ski in the Alps, learned German and got to use it on a daily basis, visited European cities that most adults dream of venturing to. I’ve tasted some of the most amazing food the world has to offer and met some amazing people along the way. Let me assure you friends, this world has so much beauty and wonder waiting to be discovered!

For the past decade, I’ve lived in the same place, just like I’ve always wanted. I have to admit, it has it’s pros and cons. I like the feeling of knowing where most everything is and being a ‘native’, but alas, I miss wandering. I miss being forced into new things. I miss the change. The very thing I used to loathe, I’m actually wishing and longing for. How did that happen?? I didn’t just grab a pair of ruby slippers and bump my head, but it almost seemed like I  had.

I’ve come to realize that home is not a place.

That seems so silly to just be realizing, but it’s true. In my heart, it’s finally clicking that home is the people, love and warmth that you surround yourself with. This plaque that always hung in our family room should have clued me in early on. “Home is where the Army sends us” — people, not place Jennifer!


Even though I’ve never lived in my parents’ current house, I still call it “going home” when we visit. My grandparents’ houses on the east coast are home because I spent a lot of time there as a child and have so many wonderful memories with them.

Summers spent in the pool, at the beach, on the lake, going to church in historic Charleston, wonderful and fresh seafood, trips to the library, Sunday races and popcorn, stories about travel and PawPaw’s collection of canes by the front door, learning to cook, grill and use a hammer, crafting at the kitchen table, rollerblading and riding my bike with MawMaw in tow.

Trips to Grammie’s classroom, visits to Wendell August Forge, going to the Zoo and riding the Good Ship Lollipop down the Allegheny River, small town ice cream trips, decorating Buttercup (Gram’s yellow Chevy) for parades or football season, 4th of July fireworks and so, so, so much more.

Getting our first puppy, Schnapps, and leaping across furniture to avoid his nip, reading with a flashlight under the covers, chasing pigeons in Venice, being a monkey on the swing set, taking the S-Bahn on field trips, seeing Disney on Ice, a birthday trip to Garmisch, Germany, learning to appreciate and love Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, cozying up by the fire for family movie night, birthday parties, learning to drive, dinner conversations and game nights.

All of these memories that make me feel at home could have taken place in a tent and would have been just as wonderful and memorable. In retrospect, this is all that matters. I stumbled on this quote and it just seems beyond fitting:

“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” {Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye}

My Heart_home

{…please excuse the awful hair days…}

These days, my home is with my darling and sweet husband, wherever we decide to make our home. Right now, we are in a little apartment saving up for our dream house. We fill our days with cooking, impromptu dance parties, lounging with crossword puzzles or a movie, occasional trips to OrangeLeaf, candlelit date nights in, having friends over for game night, discussion of puppies and so much more. My heart is just bursting with gratitude for the wonderful and enriching life I’ve been blessed with!

What are things that make you feel at home? What is home to you? I’d love to hear!

xoxo- Jenn


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