Home is where your heart is, right? Or, is home where you hang your hat?
I have been pondering the concept of home for a while now. The dictionary wasn’t very helpful, defining home as “the place where one lives permanently.” Wouldn’t that make all renters homeless by definition? I feel strongly that home isn’t where you sleep or store your stuff, and home definitely isn’t defined as the address on your driver’s license (mine, at least, is almost always inaccurate), or where your mail is delivered. So, how do you know when you’re home?
My fixation on the concept of home doesn’t come as a surprise. In Graduate School I paid a lot of attention to New Hampshire’s housing stock. Now, as the Executive Director of the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast, housing is my mission, and what’s housing without the people who call it home?
I moved out of my childhood home in Nottingham more than a decade ago, but Nottingham continued to feel like my home. So, when my parents sold the house a few years later, I felt a little lost. Like most people in their early twenties, I apartment hopped for a handful of years, moving from one small, overpriced apartment to the next. In retrospect, none of my various apartments felt like home. Not the way Nottingham had, anyway. To quote Julie Beck, who authored The Psychology of Home: Why Where you Live Means So Much, published in The Atlantic in 2011, these apartments felt more like “places borrowed than places possessed.”
Then, last summer, I made yet another move. In the midst of wrapping up my Master’s Degree and changing career paths, I moved into a great apartment in the heart of downtown Durham. When I was a student at University of NH, I never lived on campus (although it sometimes felt as though I lived at the Dimond Library). Instead, I commuted to campus every morning. As a result, I never truly felt connected to Durham, but Durham has changed, and so have I.
I love Durham for the bustling, vibrant (and incredibly walkable) town that it is. But, it isn’t just Durham that has finally made me feel at home again. I have done a fair amount of traveling over the past five years, and one thing I’ve noticed: no where else feels like New Hampshire. I was born and raised in the Granite State and I’ve never left – something I choose not to feel “weird” or “bad” about. I don’t subscribe to the notion that one must move far away from home to properly grow. I chose to bloom where I was planted because I love it here. And, what’s not to love? The state is replete with charming, idyllic downtowns and breathtaking scenery. The Granite State is rich with history, beauty, and adventure. In my quest to define home, I realized maybe you don’t define home – you let your home define you. New Hampshire is where my heart is, and the Granite State is home for me, where is home for you?