First, my title was “Homes,” and my intent was to list the many homes I have lived in. The first one, that I grew up in, was my home for eighteen years. Then, in the fourteen years of my marriage, we moved more than eighteen times. Sometimes just down the road, or from an upstairs apartment down to the ground level, but a move nonetheless. Since my divorce, I’ve been less in transit, but could still add a few locations to that long list.
Up before dawn the other day, I left the house earlier than usual for my morning walk. I left Rosa Parks home, sound asleep with her nose tucked under the covers. Usually, because Rosa Parks lags far behind, I turn back before the other dogs are ready. This would give them a chance to go as far as they’d like.
Darla starts out strong, usually with a soft toy in her mouth. Soon, she loses interest in the road, and starts exploring the sights and smells in the woods on either side. I try to watch for her toy when she drops it; we’ve lost several stuffed animals off the Fox Lake Road! She keeps an eye on me, and joins me off and on throughout the distance.
Blackie Chan walks like he’s on a mission. Though he’s a small dog, just 15 pounds, he’s fast. I have to practically run to keep up with him! Though he occasionally pauses to leave his mark on a snowbank or a pile of leaves, he is mostly undeterred. Eyes front, a steady pace and a posture of expectancy and determination. That day, we walked one mile, then two. Still, he didn’t want to turn when I wanted to turn. Where does he think he’s going? Home!
As soon as the thought crossed my mind, I knew it was true. Though he has found his place in my house, and usually seems quite happy, I bet he thinks it’s just temporary. Though he had a long car ride, a short airplane ride and then another ride in a car to get from my daughter’s house to mine, I bet he thinks his own warm house and his own family is right around the next bend.
Of course he misses Jeremy and Kate, who have taken care of him since he was born. Naturally he misses my grandchildren, who have given him so much love. My heart breaks for him. Still, I have to turn him around, to head back the way we came. If what he has in mind is some kind of “Incredible Journey” type trek, I’m just not up for it! All the way back down the road, I thought about what it is that makes a home.
For me, there are particular things that come with me when I travel, that are unpacked first when I move, and that I know will make a strange or new place feel familiar:
- Composition book. It is where I write each morning, about whatever crosses my mind.
- Bullet journal. This is where I keep track of my “day-to-day,” plus phone numbers, recipes, directions, bits of inspiration…I am never without it.
- Sketch book. Just in case.
- Books. I usually over-pack books, but get nervous at the idea of not having just the right reading material when I want it.
- Art. Obviously not just for travel, but when my daughters and I were forced to move from our home into a motel room one winter, and we had only one day and one car to move everything we needed, we chose art over many other more practical options.
- Houseplants. When moving into a new place, familiar houseplants help to make it seem more cozy.
That’s what it takes to make me feel at home. For Blackie Chan, he has his own crate with his special blanket inside. He has the pillow he’s chosen as his own, and he knows his own food dish. Beyond that, it’s just going to take time…and love.