Tuesday, November 12, 2013


With the hustle and bustle of the move coming up, one thing that has repeatedly become clear is that the definition of what "home" is becomes more, well, fluid. I spent 42 years in New England, most of it on the same street. I think by this point, "home" means "my street in my town in Massachusetts" - except that it doesn't.

Home is wherever the people you love are - and sometimes that's in more than one location.

Mom G. has been having a hard time dealing with the idea that her baby boy is moving away (truth be told, Dad G. is as well, although the tough guy retired cop won't admit it). It's understandable; for the past 14+ years I've been next door, so if they need to see us they can just stop in on their way home. It has been very convenient. If they want to see how the kids are doing, they look out their back window and see them playing in the yard.

When I say "home" to my mom, it has a different meaning now. It will be even more stark once we move into the new house (wherever that may be; more on the house hunting saga later once I calm down a bit...). For me, "home" means where the wife and kids are - but it also means where my family and lifelong friends are, too. The cliche about never going home again is true - because "home" is always changing.

I think in the grand scheme the move is a good thing for the kids especially. My dad has lived on the same street his entire life. I was headed that way until the new job opened things up. The kids will get to have a new experience in a different place - Mrs. G. brought this up when we discussed the move. They've grown up in New England, so their formative years have been spent learning the history of the New England area: Plimoth Plantation, Sturbridge Village, Boston, etc. Now they'll get a chance to learn a new history, that of Roanoke, Jamestown, and Bull Run.

For them, "home" will mean something different than it does to me, and that's not a bad thing.

I understand my mom's anguish. For her, "home" has meant the quarter-mile or so section of street where she and her husband of nearly 50 years have lived, complete with their older child next door. It's convenient when the people you love are very close by. It's hard to deal with the idea that, after more than four decades, one of those people will now be 500 miles away. I *hate* being this far from my kids even though I know it's only temporary; I can only imagine how much it must hurt to think that it could be permanent some day.

Fortunately, this is a different age than it was when I was my son's age. Communication is instantaneous and no longer limited to an expensive long distance phone call. Skype, FaceTime, gChat; there are myriad ways to stay in touch that don't cost a penny and yet put you in close contact. It's not the same as being together, of course, but it's far more instant gratification than a phone call. We'll still be up in the area a few times a year for the holidays and summer vacations, and chances are pretty good we'll talk more after we move than  before.

And I'm sure "home" will undergo a radical change in a few years when TheBoy and BabyGirl G. head off to college, too...

That is all.


Dave H said...

"Home" is a very fuzzy thing. It might not be where you live physically, but then it might. For me it's where (and when) I wish I could be when I don't want to be where I am now. Most of the time that's a little town in Ohio, although that town doesn't exist any more. My family is mostly gone from there, and almost all my childhood friends have moved away too. But I still think of myself as an Ohioan even though I've lived here in New York for the last 15 years and my kids were raised here. (One good thing about this situation is I can blame the people here for what their governor did. I had not part in it!)

Cargosquid said...

Very well said.

As a Virginian, let me say, "Welcome Home."

John Rose said...

My wife and I moved a lot, both as children and a couple. We made a hand painted sign that says "Home is wherever I am with you."

Borepatch said...

Get your folks an Xbox with Kinect Video chat:


At their age they'll likely be a lot more comfortable doing video chats with their grandkids on their TV.

Bruce H. said...

"My home is not a place. It is a person." Aral Vorkosigan in Barrayar, by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Anonymous said...

My wife and her family had a tough time when we moved to KY.

They were 13 hours away by car instead of 30 minutes.

I would like to say the transition was easy but it was not. When her parents had health issues it was difficult to deal with expectations.

It will work out one way or another.

Good luck.


PS My family is happiest when we stay at least 1000 mile apart.

Wandering Neurons said...

When my father passed away at 89 last year (WWII Vet), I had to go back home twice to handle things. The second time, after driving around for several hours to soak up memories, I realized that my home of 21 years (till I joined the USAF) was no longer home. The only folks living there were a few friends and family I never visited with.
Home was a 12 hours drive away, where I now live with my wife and pets.
It takes some getting used to. But instant communications helps immensely.

Angus McThag said...

Plus they get to learn a new historical term, "carpetbagger"!

Old NFO said...

+1 on Angus! :-) And believe me Jay, you're extremely lucky to have been able to do that... In my military career I moved an average of every 2 years (11 moves) and the closest I ever got to home was in one school that was 240 miles away...

Stretch said...

"new history, that of Roanoke, Jamestown, and Bull Run."
Reminder; in Virginia battles are referred to by the name of closest town, hence what you call The 1st (or 2nd) Battle of Bull Run is First or Second Manassas.
And Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke Colony was in North Carolina and unrelated to Roanoke, VA. Ya, we do that to confuse Yankees.

Home is where my Wench is.

RabidAlien said...

Grew up as an Air Force brat, so moving was an every-3-years deal, something that happened, not something to be dreaded. I looked on it as an adventure, a chance to explore new places, meet new people, find new and inventive ways to get into trouble. When I went into the Navy, I moved around a lot too. I think the longest I've ever lived at one address is the house we're in right now, been here since Memorial weekend '06.