Why is the concept of “home” so special to us?
“There’s no place like home,” reads the cheesy print on the latchhook wall hanging. “Home is where the heart is,” reads the souvenir potholder. The real estate industry always calls houses “homes,” in order to evoke a warm, pleasant sense of ownership.
Something about the concept of “home” resonates profoundly within us. The Ancient Greeks felt it keenly: once their heroes achieved kleos (glory), the ultimate goal became nostos (homecoming), a return to family and loved ones. Indeed, the Odyssey is basically one man’s desperate quest to get back home.
Despite the fact that most of us never fought in the Trojan War, we can relate. After a long, exhausting trip, there’s nothing like that “exhale moment” of walking through your front door, dropping your bags, and sighing with relief: you’re back.
In a home you live by your own rules. No one tells you when to get up, what clothes to wear, what TV shows to watch, or what food to eat. Want to jump on your bed? Go for it! Want to hang upside-down off the couch while listening to your embarrassing Limp Bizkit tunes? No one’s going to stop you.
But home is about much more than the absence of constraints. It’s the ability to let down our guard, relaxing into the familiar. Out in the real world, anything might happen. But you can trust things in your home to be the way you left them, from your dirty socks to your prized antique collection.
Home is also about moments that live forever in your memory, rising to the surface unbidden. In the famous madeleine scene from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Times, the narrator tastes a sweet that instantly brings back a flood of memories from his childhood. That’s what the familiarity of home can do for us, whether it’s your mother’s baked treats or putting away the Monopoly board with your siblings.
What are the moments, memories, and emotions that you associate with your home? And why do you miss it so much when you’re away?