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“I home,” a 2-year-old remarked recently when she discovered the babysitter’s house had her favorite toy. She was expressing her ease at being left there for a little while while finding comfort with a place because it had the familiar landmarks of home. Most of us feel that way sometimes.
The sense of place — of feeling like you are home — when you are actually somewhere far away from familiar faces, is tied more to memory of a place than the actual geographic location. The buildings that marked your path to school, to church, to home, become old friends, they are so familiar. When they are torn down, a piece of your childhood memory goes missing and nothing feels the same. The people, the type of life lived in the community all contribute to the belief that you are safe and among friends.
Change seems to happen overnight, and nothing so much as a different sound of the wind hitting new construction, the silence of the birdsong falling to the clatter of the machinery, make one long for that feeling of home. Anything that threatens to change the feeling of home-ness is looked at suspiciously. And much as we did in the comfort and safety of our own home, we let loose and express our true feelings about things. Yelling, screaming, laughing, shouting accompany the “Hey, you invaded my space!” cry. Tantrums, the silent treatment, bickering and bargaining — all of the behaviors most of us show to our families behind closed doors — seem to come out in the open when an issue or sign of change shakes up the status quo.
Just as we get used to jiggling the handle on a running toilet, or oiling a squeaky door in our own home, we become accustomed to making do with whatever is wrong or in disrepair. Every community is different in what it is that the residents become used to, whether it be driving a hundred miles for entertainment or limited supplies of the necessities of life.
The main problem with the old saying, “Home is where the heart is” is how restrictive or limited that seems to be, as it stretches to include the stomach and brain, as well. Just because home has become a little outdated or in need of some renovating, it doesn’t call for a complete overhaul.