Home – noun \ hōm \
: one’s place of residence
: a familiar or usual setting
: a place of origin
“Home is where one starts from.” ~ T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
I live in Michigan.
I originated “down state,” but I grew up “up north.”
I don’t think anybody knows for sure where “up north” starts, but where I live now is considered “down state,” but it’s not as far down the mitten as where I started.
Up north starts for me where the trees line the interstate, where I feel that familiar tug when my roots tangle with theirs. Where the air grows rich and heavy and sweet with memories. I see water shimmer between the cracks. We cross the county line, and then I see where my grandparents’ restaurant used to stand. My heart beats faster. We pass the Call of the Wild. I used to work there.
I was born in Dearborn. We moved up north when I was four. My parents bought a teeny house and four log cabins on a small lake. I spent most of my growing-up years there.
I was up north last week. But a dozen miles further north to Gaylord where my dad and sister and brother live now, to the place where I walked the aisle in cap and gown, to the place where I was married.
I went home.
I walked downtown one day—or was it uptown?
I passed St. Mary’s School where I trekked over from the public school to take two years of Latin. I remember Sister Somebody striding up and down the aisle in what I think was a cream-colored habit, smacking a ruler against her palm, conjugating those verbs.
Across the way there’s a business center, kitchen shop, and yarn store taking up the old A&P’s space. We used to borrow grocery carts and race up and down the sidewalk on warm summer nights. One evening, Norm (I think it was Norm) showed up with a dead raccoon he’d picked up on the side of the road. Patsi and I sneaked through yards and propped it up in the driver’s seat of Sam’s car with its little paws clinging to the steering wheel.
My mom worked for two attorneys over on the other corner, and I worked there as a file clerk before and after school back when the old courthouse was still there. It’s gone now, too, demolished the year I graduated. Or maybe it was after I left for nursing school. I don’t remember.
I had a headache and needed some ChapStick®, so I decided to head down to Nelson’s drugstore—except I forgot it’s not there any more. Neither is Al’s or Glasser’s. You have to head west and across the tracks for drugs.
I used to love to wander around in Audrain’s Hardware. It’s gone.
The little theater is long gone. If you want to see a movie, you have to head west, again, for the multiplex.
Everything’s changed. And everything’s the same.
Like Glen’s Market. It’s Family Fare now. But it’ll always be Glen’s.
It was Alpenfest week. Main Street was blocked off for craft booths and carnival rides. The youth orchestra was playing under the pavilion. People milled around everywhere—and I didn’t see anyone I knew. Many of “my” people have either passed on or moved on. The rest of us have changed so much, we probably just didn’t recognize each other.
But this town, this “up north,” is still my home. It’s the place that houses my earlier memories. This is the place that made me—me. It’s the place I started from.
“We must be still and still moving,” wrote T.S. Eliot.
When I’m still, I remember, and my past calls to my present, and my present becomes my past, and I’m at home in the moment.
I’ve moved around a lot and called a lot of places home.
We lived in Georgia—down south—for several years. That seemed like home because my dream had always been to live there. But in a lot of ways, that time felt like a dream. Eventually we came home—to home.
There’s a river in Texas that feels more like home than any place I’ve been besides my Michigan homes “down state” and “up north.” The air in that Texas canyon is thin—and yet thick—with the presence of God. And I long to go back.
Where I sit now at this table, I’m surrounded by the phantoms of my husband’s people—who’ve become my people. This is my house, my now home. My children and grandchildren live nearby. It’s comfortable here.
“In my end is my beginning,” wrote T.S. Eliot.
Or maybe in my beginning is my end?
I’m guessing I’ll never really feel at home in this world.
Last week I came home from home.
But one day I’ll go home.
Where is home for you? Where do you feel at home?
WORD COUNT: 787
Sandra Heska King (AKA SHK) lives in Michigan and writes from a 150-plus-year-old family farmhouse set on 60-something acres surrounded by corn or soybeans or sometimes wheat. She’s a camera-toting, recovering doer who’s learning that just being still is just fine. Sandra blogs at sandraheskaking.com and sometimes spills words in other places across the Internet. You can catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Photos provided by Sandra Heska King, used with permission.
The winner of a copy of Jen Pollock Michel’s new book, Teach Us To Want, is Glenda Childers. I’ve contacted her directly to arrange shipment of the book. Thanks to everyone who left a comment and participated in the drawing. I hope you all are able to read the book.
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