Village, Home.

For Berengere 08.18.11 (c) C. Quintana 2011

Coming home, particularly among the classic, “New Orleans: Proud to Call it Home” bumper stickers, makes you think a lot about what the hell “home” means. Not literally. Though, of course, I looked it up.

I found it interesting that the Old English origin,  hām means “village, home.” So a “village” and a “home” are meant to be the same thing? Funny that home can mean “my apartment or my house or my little cardboard box beside the Duane Reade (Duane Reade/cardboard box may also be one in the same)” or it can mean my town, my city, my village.

A good family friend told me the other day that it takes a good seven years to shake off the place where you grew up and move on with your life. Seven years and you’re beyond the pull. I’m not sure if that’ll be the case for me. Then again, I grew up in New Orleans, which is, in my opinion, basically the greatest city on earth. Though, about a year ago, I moved to New York City, which many would argue wins the trophy for “Best City in the World.” But I think there are plenty of those 8 million people in New York City who would say that New York is not their home, despite however long they may have camped there. I’m sure there are loads of individuals everywhere who feel that wherever they live is not really home. A place to live is not necessarily a home, after all.

“Home is about the community.” I’ve heard this about a thousand times. So it is the village. Not the literal village, but the village you build up around yourself, then? Maybe so. But what happens when you’ve built a fantastic village in more than one place? Then what’s home? Is home then the place where your mail gets sent? What if you’ve got a P.O. Box? Well then, that’s a another thing entirely!

Lately a lot of people I know and love have been taking these life-leaps and moving across the country with a significant other– well, maybe that’s all it takes. Home must be a lot like love and we English-speakers are at a loss because we’ve only got one word to describe something that has so many facets and definitions.

Growing up, whenever my family would go on a vacation or evacuate for a storm, I always found myself calling the hotel, “home,” even though, obviously, the hotel wasn’t home. Though it was a base, a place to sleep in a warm bed with family. Or, in college, I would often get tongue-tied between calling the place where I grew up versus the place where I was living “home.” Maybe homes are like friends and we’re always bound to have many– some that we feel closer to at different points in our lives, some that we lose touch with and some that will forever hold a piece of us.


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