Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Where is Home?

Longing for home is a theme in both of my books - and in my life. In The Christmas Village, 12-year-old Jamie finds himself far from home at Christmas time, and longs for nothing more than to return home in time to be with his family for the holiday. In Return to Canterbury, it's less about Jamie's desire to return home, and more about his desire for that kind of deep sense of belonging that makes us feel like we are at home.

It's no surprise that these are strong themes in my books because I've always been a homebody. I remember running home from my friend Nancy Preble's house after a sleepover, my little legs flying down the hill and the words, "I can't wait to get home," pounding in my head. Mind you, Nancy's house was no more than 500 steps away from mine.

This is the house I grew up in - the one I ran home to. But it was red then. 
And there was the time that my beloved Uncle Fred and Auntie Kay brought me home with them to New York City. They were so kind, and they loved me so much and wanted to show me a good time in the city, but I was so homesick they had to bring me back early. To this day, I still wish I could hug them and tell them I'm sorry!!

So it's no wonder our 10-month adventure traveling in the motor home challenged me!

Our beloved Dreamcatcher home



It's not that I don't like to travel and see the world - I do! But I very much need to know that I have a place called home to return to. We are who we are.

There are certain places that will always be "home" to me. I feel my deepest sense of belonging in those places, and I imagine I always will.

Ocean Point, East Boothbay, Maine.
These rocks are my favorite place on this planet. Whenever I step foot on them, I feel HOME.

But I have evolved some over the past few years, in large part because of that big leap with the RV. I really LIKE my comfort zone and prefer not to be thrown out of it. But I have to admit that good usually does come of it. It's not always clear right away. In fact, it takes a while. But getting thrown WAY out of my comfort zone taught me that it is possible to feel at home wherever I am. I discovered that feeling "at home" has less to do with being in a particular place, and much more to do with doing what I love (writing, practicing and teaching yoga) and spending time with people whom I love and who love me. Family, and friends who feel like family.





When we landed here in Florida a year ago, I found that something in me had shifted. I was tired of wasting my life's energy longing to be somewhere else and I very much wanted to learn how to be content where I am. And when I made that shift, MAGIC happened. I instantly found a yoga studio that welcomed me back to teaching. We discovered, to our great delight, that dear old friends from New England whom we had missed terribly just happen to have a home a half hour from us. They come and go between here and up north, but we've already spent lots of time laughing and playing with them again. I was not able to "go home" this year, meaning I didn't make any trips to New England. But family and friends have visited us here.

And, feeling grounded again, I wrote and published my second book.

Much of our suffering in life relates to attachment - to people, places and things. We cling too tight and it's wrenching to let go. It's very human to grow attached; we all do it. The past few years have taught me - finally - that the more I loosen my grip, the less attached I am; the more that what I really want in life manages to find its way to me. Weird. But true. MAGIC.



18 comments:

  1. Melissa, this post is so sweet. I was right there with you as I read along, because when I was a little girl, I was the same way about home, and family, and feeling loved. Your childhood home is picture-perfect! It looks magical. Mine looked similar, only it was a one-story house and very tiny. I have such feelings of "home," in various parts of the country, too.....places where I was most happy....You really were brave to go on your RV voyage, and again you were so open and shared your feelings with us. I'm so happy to be your bloggy friend, and hopefully one day we'll be able to meet. I SO want to travel, too, and someday I hope I have the funds to do that.....and of course, have the funds to get back HOME. :)

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    1. Hi Becky! We have always been kindred spirits :D. I hope we will meet someday too. Our house was very small and we were the only house on the street with a dirt driveway for a long time. That was good for playing marbles though. Up the street the houses were huge old New England colonials. I have several places that feel like home to me - my hometown, Boothbay, Maine, Quebec City and Aruba. Certain places just resonate. And yes, make sure there is always enough $ left to get back home!

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    2. Melissa...."a dirt driveway"...My house was the only one (I'm almost positive) that had a pebble drive way and no garage! Such fun to make little roads in for our small cars and trucks! (I was a tomboy!) ...and I played marbles in the dirt, too. Have we talked about this before??? Have you read my memoir?? LOL

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    3. Becky - we had no garage either - you can see the house still doesn't have one! Is your memoir out? I have been waiting for it!

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    4. Hey Melissa! I've driven past my old house a few times, especially when writing my memoir, and it does have a garage now, but it's detached! And yes, my memoir came out on November 6th! You didn't hear me announcing it from the rooftops?! In fact, you can enter to win a free copy at Margo Dill's blog: http://margodill.com/blog/#sthash.4l8rhRgF.dpbs

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    5. I must have been too wrapped up in myself! It's in my Amazon shopping cart now, but I'll go to Margo's too. Which reminds me...I owe her a guest post - I better get to it!

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  2. Even though I'm known as a traveler (as a writer anyway), I long for a solid foundation, a home. On my last visit to New England, I mentioned to my aunt how much I'd love to settle into a small town somewhere, but she didn't believe me. Indeed, something does send me out on the road, but perhaps it is a search for a place of belonging.

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    1. Hi Ted! I do think of you as adventurous. But I can also picture you in a small town. We probably all have both sides in us, just to different degrees.

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  3. As a home body, this resonated. Home is indeed where the heart (my heart anyway) is. And perhaps it is time to make a few steps out of my comfort zone. Thanks so much for a thought provoking post.

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    1. I sometimes think that leaving the comfort zone is overrated, but it seems that growth always does come from it! Sometimes we have to leave home in order to remember how much we love it. But then, after that, it's nice to just stay home!! :)

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  4. Few places represent home as well as New England does, for some reason.

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    1. Ted, for me as well. New England will always be home to me. And there is something special - for me - about small New England towns.

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  5. Hi Melissa and Dick - home is where we make it .. having travelled a fair amount myself - I always like to settle ... and even here I'm renting - not completely settled, but for now it suits me down to the ground. I'm so pleased you've found yourself at peace in Florida and then had the fortune to meet up with some old friends and have family and friends visit you down south..

    Enjoy - and congratulations on all you've both achieved .. Hilary

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    1. Thank you Hilary. You were always such a good friend along the journey. We are renting too, but it's nice to be settled.

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  6. Dear Melissa, this posting truly speaks to me. The name of my on-line memoir blog is "Coming Home to Myself" and that's what I've been trying to do for the last few years. After living for 38 years in Minnesota, I moved back to Missouri where I grew up and I discovered that it didn't "feel' like home in any way. And it's taken me nearly five years to discover what you have recently also discovered. Home is where I am content and doing what brings me joy. I'm glad for you. Peace.

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    1. Hi Dee, I remember when you were longing to "go home" and considering what to do. I sometimes wonder if I moved back "home" if it wouldn't be anything like what I remember, and if my glasses are too rose-colored about things like winter weather. I think that I will always feel a little off-balance anywhere but New England, but I also realize that is not necessarily a bad thing.

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  7. I'm a home-body too and this really touched me. You've been on such an adventure in the past few years and it's so inspiring to read that you've found yourself in such a great place. Beautiful post, Melissa.

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    1. Thanks Julie! It's definitely been a ride, and I think I've had to grow in leaps and bounds in a short period. But it was all necessary growth and I'm glad to be in a restful place for a while -because we all know that things keep a-changing!

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