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?