Where Is Home?

In the midst of the pandemic many of us have left our homes and migrated to (or have been stranded in) a place removed from what we normally call home. So, while I isolate in the Adirondack Mountains, I reflect on the question, “Where is home?”

As a child I lived in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania next to the Susquehanna River. Since I left that house at the age of eight that is certainly not a home.

Growing up, I lived in Albany, New York off New Scotland Avenue. Now, whenever I drive by the home where I spent most of my youth the bright red front door summons me to enter. On one occasion the current owners invited me in for a visit but, although part of me longed for that early home, the visit told me that Albany exits only as a memory. I no longer belong there. In my imagination I still see my father sitting in a yellow wingtip chair next to the brick fireplace. That is a vanished past. Albany is no longer my home nor for that matter is Jerusalem, Providence, Armonk or Mount Kisco, where I also spent extensive periods of time.

Thus I ask: where is home? Since March 15 I have been sequestered at my house in the Adirondacks. I love living here. Whenever I think of the apartment in New York where I dwell for most of the year I lack desire to return to the city. I did venture back to New York twice in recent months. The first time, in June, the city was ghostly and I could not wait to leave. During a brief visit at the end of August, New York had returned to a semblance of normality but once again, after 24 hours, I was glad to depart.

I do not have any desire to leave Brant Lake. My house at the lake is lovely and includes many of the remnants precious to me. In many ways living at the lake is living at home.

Except. For the majority of time that we have been isolated we have also had all of our family here. That includes seven grandchildren who are gradually disappearing as they return to school. Brant Lake, although wonderful, is not quite as full as it was before—and some of the feeling of home has disappeared.

Therefore, in the midst of the pandemic, although the definition of a home may be a place, that is only a partial definition. Home is when we are with those we love. Whether by Zoom, a phone call, or in person, Home is defined primarily by being close to those individuals, whether family or friends. Home is not only where we live but also where we are fulfilled by others. As the poet John Donne said “No man is an island unto himself.”

For me this is one of the takeaways of the pandemic.

Where is home for you?

Sheltering

5 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Sy Gitin

    Where is home? In Jerusalem, where there are different types of loons, but not the kind that fly. We are in a loon declared 3-week lockdown, but without any means of enforcing it, and with so many exceptions determined by political reasons that our covid-19 numbers go up as do the number of deaths. Yet, I am hopeful that reason will out and we will eventually turn the corner as we did last summer. At least the weather in Jerusalem after weeks of a heat wave has returned to normal with lower temperatures and cool nightly breezes. It’s what Dan encountered his first time in Jerusalem more than 60 years ago. Let’s hope that the New Year will bring a return to sanity and justice.

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  2. Because Brant Lake has been home for 50 years..it is home where my kids grew up, went to school, and did bellyflops off the dock. Today though if the saying “your home is where your heart is ” is true..my heart is at my Florida home where I have time to slow down and enjoy the beauty , friends,and things to do. I really enjoy your blog . Wishing you, Ann and your family good health and happiness.

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  3. Dear Dan,
    It’s wonderful to see you back on the blog. I’m sheltering here in NYC, praying that the loons go back where they came from.
    May the year 5781 be a much better year for all.
    Shana Tova!
    Meredith

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  4. Hi Dan, I just love your writing and am glad you feel safe at home where you are in that beautiful spot of Brant Lake. So where is home. Although My actual home is Santa Rosa, CA. I am now in Albuquerque with Joel and Wendy and I love the beauty of this wonderful place. They have rescued me from the threat of wildfires, horrible smoke filled skies and a 36 hour power outage which I did endure, and difficult breathing indeed. So I am happy to be at home here and in touch with friends and family by phone, IPad and Zoom.
    No doubt you are seeing the start of the wondrous Fall colors which I continue to miss so keep enjoying your lovely home on the lake and remember me to Ann and I’m so delighted that you started to blog again. Adele

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  5. “Where is home for you?” Well G’Rabbi Dan the words preceding the question answer the question for us here on the Upper Left Coast far away from most of our family. “…Home is when we are with those we love. Whether by Zoom, a phone call, or in person,….”.
    Our family is scattered and isolated. Some of our family is over 3,000 miles away with you in the Adirondacks. Another portion of the family sequesters hundreds of miles away in the Oregon High Desert. A son is nearby but works 10-12 hour days and maintains social distance from us to protect us. And none of us can travel much less gather in closeness in the living room. Then comes civil unrest followed by horrific winds, and fires, and smoke to deepen the sense of (and reality of) isolation.
    So, without the phone, texts, emails, FaceTime, we’d be feeling without family, without home. However, of all the tools available, perhaps the ones of greatest home-building value have been memory and imagination. We might receive a call or a text and video of grandkids doing some delightful activity. That is good for a few minutes. But then the memory and imagination kick in and we’re in possession of a whole bunch of warm images of them going through their days – as though we were there. Perhaps memory and imagination are the catalyst that, when mixed with the literal sounds and images sent by media tools, produce a long-lasting, full feeling of home and family.
    Thank you for another nice blog entry.
    Carl G’Daddy Axelsen

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