Your definition of home speaks to the world about what you value most. If we believe what HGTV and retailers tell us, home looks like stainless steel appliances, high-end countertops and fixtures, and space to entertain our herd of Facebook friends. But I believe when pressed most of us would admit that home has less to do with the sticks, bricks, window boxes, and possessions and more to do with the people, the loved ones inhabiting whatever space we have.
While I appreciate a well-designed house, my definition of home makes me the perfect nomad. Here’s why: I have very little attachment to material possessions and I feel only a smidgen of sentiment toward places in my past. Some people think that makes me a robot or Vulcan, but I think it makes me free-spirited. Call me a gypsy if you must.
When traveling I get asked a lot where I call home. Not that I mind the question. My answer usually depends on how much time I’ve got. If I’m in a hurry I’ll quickly say Indiana, but with wiggle room in my schedule I’ll mention the RV and wait for the inevitable follow-up questions. There are always follow-up questions when you say your home is an RV.
Last week a gal I’d met at the laundromat in Traverse City asked about my home and since both of us were at the beginning of laundry cycles I gave her the long answer. The conversation flowed.
Connie was from Oregon and her mother had past away recently. To honor her mom and dad, Connie and her husband bought an RV to try out the lifestyle her parents had loved and lived for several decades. These are the talks I love to have with people, encouraging them to get out there and start an adventure while they still can.
Through wash cycles and extended drying time my newfound laundry friend talked about her family. She told me stories about trips her parents had taken each of her kids on, special rites-of-passage journeys where grandma and grandpa showed the grandchildren how good the slow lane of life could be. Memories her children now treasured. Could they do that for their own grandchildren? Connie and her husband had already had an awful first weekend camping and she feared it would never get better. Would she miss her home with its luxuries too much?
With everything folded and neatly stacked we parted ways, and even though I wanted to know how the story would end, would they keep the RV and set out on a journey similar to her parents or would they sell it and forever close the chapter on future camping adventures, I said nothing other than, “Best of luck.”
While I wanted to convince Connie that every discomfort will be worth it, the simple truth was her idea of home differed from mine. She loved her hometown, the people, the local quirks, the house she’d built with her husband. She loved her animals and her garden and the neighbors who worked hard to create community. Connie valued the day to day life she had in Oregon so much so that I wanted to visit her there and see it for myself.
Instead of persuading her to my preferred lifestyle she’d reminded me of all the wonderful things about returning to a familiar place. The timing of our meeting was interesting since a few days later Daniel and I would be moving out of our RV and returning to apartment life for the rest of the year. “Maybe Indiana won’t be so bad after all,” I thought. Besides, my definition of home has little to do with a where or a what and everything to do with who. It’s cliche to say “home is where the heart is” and yet, if our definition of home speaks to the world about what we value most, then my heart, the people I love, call Indiana home right now. And, so will I.