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Home... Sweet, sweet Home

PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:37 am
by Daywhite
One of the most bestest people I know and someone I consider a true friend and kindred spirit has a wonderful blog, [url][/url]. Much of what Robin writes inspires me, but this I thought would make a great topic for DS.

What particularly caught my attention with this post was the question Robin asks, "What does "home" feel like to you? Share a time in your life when you hungered to go home." I thought about it and, though I'm sure there are many instances throughout my life I absolutely hungered for home, one particular moment did come to mind.

When I was 5-years-old, my mother got married. For the first five years of my life, "home" was with Grandma, my maternal grandmother; I called her Mama for awhile and simply called my mother Elaine. My mother was only nineteen when I was born, and we lived at Grandma's house off and on for those first five years. I went everywhere with Grandma, to the grocery store, taking the city bus to town to pay bills, it didn't matter. My mother worked, sometimes two different jobs, and I was always with Grandma.

No matter where my mother and I would go, traveling by bus across country to California, staying with a great uncle, or traveling the same way to Ohio to stay with another relative, home, my home, was always at Grandma's. I knew where I belonged at Grandma's house. I was never visiting; I could visit other places, even live other places with my mother, but the only "home" was at Grandma's. Life made sense at Grandma's, so much so I never thought to question anything about my life, to ever wonder why I was happy. Life was good. Grandma was always there, when I got up in the morning and when I went to bed at night, sleeping by her side.

My cousins were often around, always someone to play with. There was extended family everywhere. My cousin Dean and I were so close we would swap underwear, simply step into the bathroom, just outside the back door, take our pants off, swap underwear, and continue with our play. I have no idea why we did it, but, at the time, it made perfect sense, as did everything else that happened at Grandma's.

My grandmother was half Cherokee, and all of her family, sister, brother, even her mother, were very rural people, living off of the land, having some type of garden year round. I remember visiting certain family members who lived so far in the country that the last few miles to their house were on dirt roads. Everyone would get together, helping in each’s garden, children running around barefoot, careful to avoid ant beds. Life was simple, and simple was so wonderful.

The man my mother married was a race car driver and a mechanic. We moved a mobile home onto the lot he had, placing it in front of his garage. That was where we lived for the next two years, my mother, step-father, step-brother, step-sister, and me. I was lost from the start. I was used to coming and going as I wanted. Here, I had to check in, I had to help clean the garage, keep the yard clean and do as I was told, no questions asked. I was in the garage once playing, because I wasn’t allowed in the house when no one else was home. I had to stay where my step-father could see me. He was working on a car and asked me to hand him a 9/16 wrench that was on a bench. I looked but had no idea what a 9/16 wrench was. I had helped my grandfather; I knew what a hammer was, a saw, simple things. But I had never heard of a 9/16 wrench. When he realized I couldn’t find it, my step-father stepped around the car, cussing, “Damn, can’t even find a damn wrench!” He grabbed the wrench and went back to what he was doing. I was 5-years-old.

Any disobedience, actual or perceived, was dealt with swiftly and harshly. My mother and step-father fought often, everything from yelling and cussing to throwing fists and frying pans. I was the youngest, my step-brother two years older, and my step-sister five years older. It seemed I was always in someone’s way. If I sat on the couch, someone would ask me to move down, move over, something, always move. At some point, I don’t know exactly when, I started lying under the coffee table. I would take naps there or simply lie there, out of the way, no one asking me to move.

My mother and step-father were married for two years. We would visit Grandma’s every so often, maybe each week, every two weeks, but always had to leave, to return to the trailer with the garage behind it. My mother stayed married, trying to show my grandmother she could make it on her own. It took my grandmother’s death for my mother to decide she couldn’t take living there anymore. Grandma had a heart attack at home one day. We were there, me, my mother, cousins, aunts and uncles. It was a Sunday, so everyone had stopped by. My grandmother had been working too hard for too long. She was 57-years-old.

I remember when it happened. I remember all of the adults seemed real scared and one told the oldest of the grandkids to take all the rest of us for a walk around the block, get us out of the house while they tried to figure things out. My grandmother was gone by the time we got back. Someone had driven her to the hospital. I remember, two days later, my step-sister, who was at the hospital with my mother, called the trailer and told me my grandmother was dead. I ran to the bedroom I shared with my step-brother, laid on the bed and cried, screaming. My step-brother and his best friend walked past the door of the room and his friend asked him what was wrong with me. I remember my step-brother said, “His grandmother just died.” I was seven-years-old.

I know this may seem a bit strange, a bit far-reaching, but I don’t feel I’ve known a home since that felt as right as Grandma’s. My mother and stepfather were divorced a few months later and, after a trip to Ohio to try to clear her head, to find some balance in a life without her mother in it, we moved into a government housing project where we lived, off and on, for the next 13 years.

No matter where I’ve been in my life, I’ve carried my grandmother with me, and a longing to return home.




Re: Home... Sweet, sweet Home

PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2010 4:48 pm
by Sabina
Daywhite, this is a truly beautiful topic and I loved your depiction of home. I sincerely hope you find it again.

[quote="Daywhite"]"What does "home" feel like to you? Share a time in your life when you hungered to go home."

I always imagined home as a safe harbor.
Even if everything else in life is upside down and backwards, home to be that place where life makes sense.
The place where you can catch a breather, be yourself, feel free, feel joy, simply feel good, always.
Where you feel good even if things aren't so grand at the moment, but you know it's just a fleeting moment, it's only an exception, because at its base, it is heaven. External things may and do affect it from time to time, but with a solid base, it is indestructible.

But, there is more to my picture of "home" than that, and I haven't really thought about this much, until now.

When I was 17 and lived by myself for the first time, I felt truly at home.
At that time that deep sense of freedom I felt was more important than anything else. I needed the solitude. I went to weekly art classes, painted, had my favorite place to eat, read books, watched movies, went for walks and was blissfully happy.
After some time there wasn't much solitude left, as my house was filled with friends who would come by every day.
I think it was then that I discovered something else that was extremely important to me. Here are just a few examples out of many from that period...


One Sunday I was talking to a friend, or actually a distant cousin, over the phone, we were just chatting and mentioned by the way that I was out of milk for my coffee.
Within the hour he was at my doorstep, with milk and a bright smile. Said he came for coffee.


One day I was walking through the center and saw this man was selling puppies. A bunch of them in a carton box. I always wanted to have a dog but wasn't allowed to have one (which is why I instead had every other pet I could think of), so I approached the box. He said they were German Shepherds. That seemed about right, I didn't really care much about it anyway, and I bought one.
I already had a cat too.
I was so happy.
Within two days at the most I discovered that the pup was sick and had diarrhea, like constantly. I kept cleaning up after it, taking care of it, I called a friend and told her what was going on.
It died on that same day, shortly after that.
It was the first death I ever witnessed, and I was all alone, but... within mere minutes someone rang my door bell. The friend I talked to called others, and three of my friends were there, to see if they can help, just in case I needed them.
They didn't know that the dog died before they arrived, but their arrival at that moment meant so much to me. I was holding the dog in my lap and the rigor mortis had already set in, which completely shocked me, how quickly it happened. One of my friends, Dejan, went and got a bag from the kitchen, took the dog from my lap and put it inside. He was so gentle. They all were.
We then went out, found a special spot and buried the dog together.
I was told by a vet that the dog probably didn't get a necessary vaccination and.. I don't remember the details anymore, but he said that the dog was obviously already sick when I bought it.


Voting time, elections. The country was in turmoil. Civil war down the road. The state media was brainwashing people (this is fairly common world-wide, I know), and me and my friends were doing everything we could to stop that. Uros, a sculptor and music-enthusiast, set his grandmother's TV up so that whatever channel she turned on, she could only see the same channel everywhere. An independent channel called Studio B. I know it wasn't a large impact action, it was just his grandmother whose mind could have been affected by this, but it was a cute attempt. We talked to people, went on demonstrations, and when the voting day came, we were all at my place, about a dozen people. I didn't have a TV at the time (don't remember why), just a radio, so we all sat around that radio and fevered together.


Back to Vienna now...
About half a year ago I met one of my friends from "the old days", Gregor. My last name changed since then and he wasn't able to find me, I didn't know anything about his life either, and FaceBook is good for such things, so we met, and it was great! We possibly got along even better than we did when we were younger. I suggested that we go meet Philipp, whom Gregor hasn't seen in ages. When we were younger (teenagers) we used to go out together, Gregor, Philipp, me and two others. He liked the idea, so I called Philipp, and asked if he'll offer us a coffee if we come.
He was very surprised by the call, but said Yes, enthusiastically, so we did.
As we arrived Philipp smiled, happy, and said "That's typical Sabina, to do such a thing out of the blue".
We stayed until late, drinking wine, listening to music and talking, and had a lovely evening.
What I did was nothing so special, I thought, but the sentence that it was a "typical Sabina action" came back to me just now as I wrote about the other experiences, from Belgrade, and I realized that yes, it is a typical Sabina action around here. That surprise visits or showing need are not a forte of the Austrian population, in general, and that I miss the hell out of that!


I have a great home and a beautiful life. I could write a separate answer on why what I have is a great home. So, I know this... but, when thinking of what all "home" is for me, and when I crave it, it is this spontaneity within the community. The need for each other, so openly and naturally expressed. No formalities, no bullshit, just love. Also having "a community", not as an extra-ordinary event, but a natural, regular part of life.

I am so grateful for having had that in my life at that point, when I was 17/18. Without that experience I may have wondered through life feeling that something is missing, but without a clue as to what it is.

I think life should consist of more than just a family with occasional friendly visits from others.
I had that and it ended abruptly, suddenly.
I learned to be happy without it, because that is not the only thing that makes me happy.
But this isn't about happiness.

Thank you for opening this topic.
Remembering this, and writing it down, has meant a lot to me.

Re: Home... Sweet, sweet Home

PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2010 8:53 pm
by mirjana
Daywhite, thank you for opening such an important topic that has brought us two touching stories, yours and Sabina's.

I love the way you write. I love the way you gently and naturally express your feelings and how you nurture your warm memories, with love and without judgments. I enjoyed very much your story.
For me, home has always been every place where I could live my full personality surrounded with those I love, what has changed over time, from my parents to my own family.
I had very happy childhood and enjoyed it very much. It has been spread between three places, Belgrade, my native town where I was born, Krtoli, the native town of my mother at the sea cost of Montenegro where we spent summer holidays and Tarevci, the native village of my father, set at the edge of the small mountain. We spent some state holidays there, regularly few times in year, surrounded with my father's family and some other interesting cousins I loved very much. I felt at home at each of these places, my parents were always with my brother and me and there were many dear friends and close family with who I felt close and still have very close relationship today. In Tarevci I met the love of my life when I was pretty young and later was happy enough to marry him.
In Belgrade we lived for 8 years together with our kids and it was a dream time of my life, and as far as I know a very happy childhood of my kids. I felt at home in the best of that word. We had attic apartment that we built ourselves, each day there were our friends or the friends of our children at our place, and it was joyful time. When we moved to Vienna because my husband was transferred there for business purposes, another life started and for years it was not happy but filled with sadness and different art of suffer. It took me years to realize the purpose of this step and with war and everything that happened afterwards there, I began to love my new home and the safety we had there. It gave us an opportunity to help many close people and with time Vienna became the place I felt happiness when turning to it. Belgrade became a place to visit. I have just turned back from such a visit. But, so much has changed and I cannot say I love those changes. It is still beautiful city full of life, but the main energy is everything I do not care much ...or I became different =0) My mother is not there, my brother is not there. They moved to another small town and I love that place and enjoy always more when going there because they are there. My old friends are in Belgrade, with their life problems so that we can have just a short time together nurturing our friendship. It is precious time being with them, but it would be the same with them on every other place too.
We had five great years in South France, have got many friends that we visit when going there and they come to visit us. It could be my home, but we moved to Porec.
Now we live in Porec which is in Croatia at the sea cost and here too we have friends. [url][/url]
But, our house is full of joy when our children come to visit us or some of very close old friends or dear and close family.
I am a family person and I know that my home is where I am surrounded with those I love.

Re: Home... Sweet, sweet Home

PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2010 10:55 pm
by Daywhite
Thank you both for sharing such wonderful responses. So beautiful when someone shares from the heart.

Sabina, I love your memories and descriptions of the "home" you felt with friends, often being there even before you realized you needed them. I had a very similar experience with a puppy, almost the exact same thing, and same results. I fully understand the feelings involved. That your friends were there and the way they helped you to handle everything was so touching.

I was especially touched by your friend's, "That's typical Sabina, to do such a thing out of the blue." There is something so wonderful in realizing someone, friend, family, knows us so well, maybe better in many ways than we know ourselves. When we realize someone knows us so well and still cares for us, still loves us, how can we doubt we are good and deserve love and kindness. It is so much easier to share something so wonderful with the world when one realizes she deserves the same; when we learn to truly love and appreciate ourselves, it is hard to not share that with others, to make the world a bit more lovely.

"...The need for each other, so openly and naturally expressed. No formalities, no bullshit, just love. Also having "a community", not as an extra-ordinary event, but a natural, regular part of life." So beautifully said.

Mirjana, I am always so honored by your words, your replies to what I write, that I feel I will not be able to say exactly how flattered I feel. To say thank you seems far less than enough.

I love how you say, "...home has always been every place where I could live my full personality surrounded with those I love."This shows that home is rarely, if ever, a physical location. Home, as is said, is where the heart is; how could one's heart not be at the place where you are surrounded by those you love and where you feel free to simply be you, accepted and loved for who you are? I love your descriptions of your extended family, cousins, your father's family. I think it's very telling how you say, regarding your return to your old hometown, "But, so much has changed and I cannot say I love those changes. It is still beautiful city full of life, but the main energy is everything I do not care much ...or I became different." I think the last line, "I became different," is the most telling of all. We change as individuals as we grow; our hearts grow and we find the desires of our youth are no longer fitting. Your heart, at the time you returned, had grown, its roots were now with your husband and family in Vienna, the future you saw for all of you. As you say, your mother and brother were no longer there; your heart had no ties left to the town, itself. All of the things your heart had been attached to had moved, and your heart had moved with them. You say they moved to another small town, and now you love that town. Pieces of your heart live in the town; why shouldn't you love it?

One of my favorite things you say is, regarding old friends in Belgrade, "It is precious time being with them, but it would be the same with them on every other place too." Exactly. The place doesn't matter; the people matter. It is the people who have our heart; it is the people who helped build our heart, making it strong. And it is with the people who have most touched us with which our hearts will remain. "I am a family person and I know that my home is where I am surrounded with those I love." I couldn't have said it better.

Thank you both, again, for such wonderful responses. I love when we share our hearts, making the world a much smaller place, with pieces of our home being sprinkled all around the globe.

Re: Home... Sweet, sweet Home

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:50 am
by Ryan
I have read and am touched by all your stories... I have told my "story" fairly completely, but as for home... the saying "home is where the heart is" rings the most true for me. I am by no means a city boy, but I live in one of the larger cities in the world (number 217 out of 1000)... and I am at home. I am at home because of who I am with... It doesn't matter the language that is spoken, the weather, the scenery... what matters is the people I surround myself with... Which is pretty much what everyone else that has replied to this topic has said... at least that has been my understanding.

Re: Home... Sweet, sweet Home

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:18 pm
by dermot
You all have written so lovingly about 'Home', its almost daunting to follow. Daywhite you have a lovely story - telling ability!

My home was a public one in that my parents ran a small hotel/pub (bar). I hardly remember it as home, probably because there were always strangers around and we had to be aware that they were 'important' ....actually more important than we were. Or thats how i remember it.

My father was a wonderful man, he had a great appreciation of culture, and how life should be lived. Problem was he was not allowed to live his truth, due to being a publican. He became alcoholic and that influenced his/our lives negatively for a long long time.

The business had been in our family name for over 100 yrs, and was due to be passed down to me until at 29yrs old i decided i did'nt want it.

So it was'nt really home.

There was the home i shared with my first wife in which we had both of our children. I gave that away in the divorce settlement...along with most other things!

In the last 8yrs i have had many rented homes. Memorably there was an apartment i rented from a friend that held good memories.....listening to Antony and the Johnsons there for the first time is one of them.

For me the sea has always seemed as home should. Going to the edge of the sea, watching the waves smash against rocks, gushing around rounded stones, watching the fury of storm, is when i felt like i was going home.

Cloggernaugh where i live now has probably everything i value, but im not sure i can call it 'Home, sweet Home' yet at least.

This topic is interesting, it makes me think deeply about the whole idea of being Home. Truth is i'm not sure i have ever felt at home anywhere....and yet thats not a negative or critical comment, just an observation.

As a child i used to secretly think that everything i could see (my home, etc) was actually not real...that i was on some huge airoplane going to my real home......which was to me like some dreamworld....perfect.

Maybe i am!

Re: Home... Sweet, sweet Home

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:36 pm
by mirjana
The same you said to Daywhite, I can tell you: Dermot, you have a lovely story - telling ability!
It is always sincere and there is a kind of longing that I can feel in all your stories. When you started writing about Cloggernaugh in DS Breeze, I enjoy each time your description and somehow I saw you there like being part of that scenery. Are you sure that your huge airplane hasn’t brought you to your dream place? You know the story of Paulo Coelho "The Alchemist" and a young Spanish shepherd named Santiago. Santiago, believing a recurring dream to be prophetic, decides to travel to Egypt to find treasure...