Home Is a Feeling of Place Without Pretense

To me home is comfort. To me it is a place where I can be comfortable. It is not like the comfort of an overstuffed chair. It is the comfort of being able to be my, guard down, unkempt, and relaxed self. I have had a few houses that were homes in my life. I have dreams with recurring themes that take place in dream-altered houses that are based on houses I have owned in the past; they are almost unrecognizable with two kitchens, secret rooms, and unfinished wings. Renting apparently does not create a dream worthy construct in my subconscious mind.

Me, screaming, with my 4 older brothers.

Most of the people who shared my childhood home with me are gone now. My childhood home is a memory. My parents home was a home, at least my room in it, on the unheated second story of that old farm-house was and always will be home in my mind. It was my safe place. The land around it will always be home to me. The house is owned by someone else, now, and totally unrecognizable as the place I grew up, but my connection to the land is so strong that I know I will always be able to return to a place that feels like home. Mother Nature was a real mother to me, and the places where I feel and smell the damp scent of rich earth with always call out a welcome greeting to me.

The home I live in now is one in which I have lived for more than 20 years. The cabinets my husband is building in the kitchen remain unfinished, as they have for several years. The trim along the 900 plus sq. feet of tile we installed ourselves is still missing. Our home is a work in progress by two intellectuals that will never be tidy and never be finished. I’m just now claiming it as our home as a couple. It is the only house my daughter remembers; we moved in when she was 11 months old. Her first Christmas tree was planted to the south of our home and it now towers over the house, shading us from the Sonoran Desert sun. She was the center of our life until she grew up, chirped her own song, and flew the coop in her own sweet time. This was and will be always, I suspect, Zilla’s home, like my parent’s home was and is one of my homes in my head. My husband and I have only been living here together, by ourselves, for a couple of months.

I like staying in one place. It makes me feel safe. There have been many times in my life when I did not feel safe. I’m speaking not so much about feeling physically safe as feeling mentally and spiritually safe. Home is a place where I do not have to pretend to be anything to anyone, it is a place where I can relax. Home is a feeling without pretense, it is also a place I know every crack, scratch, and off kilter bit of plaster, tile, and pipe. I’m one of those people who could not easily pack up and move. I can travel, though, and I suspect one of the reasons I so love to travel is that I have a home, a real home to which I can return.

I am so lucky to have this concept, place, awareness, and people who share it with me.


  1. says

    Lovely, lovely post. So much I identify with here. I too grew up in one house. And it is hard to imagine someone else there, even now, 20 odd yrs later. My last moment in my empty room, I knelt down on those bare wood floors and prayed that our spirit there would still linger.

  2. Nancy says

    Oh how lovely, Sandra. I went back “home” to take care of my mother so she could pass away in her home of over 40 years. I stayed there for a bit afterward as we closed out the house. It was good to be able to say good-bye over the course of weeks. Our world rarely allows such time based luxuries these days, but I feel blessed to have had time with my mother and the house.

    • Nancy says

      I lived in my parents’ home, on their farm, for about 20 years all told, not all at one time, but together I think that is what it adds up to. And I have lived here in this house for going on 22 years. I love to travel, but I want a place, like the one I have to which to return. It is wonderful to have such a place isn’t it?

  3. says

    I am very different. I don’t have an attraction to this building I am living in, though I love it, I am home when I am happy and comfortable, same as you. I feel that way in many places and I only seem to require that secure feeling of life being okay to feel at home. I can even feel that when I am alone, but it is stronger and more obvious when my roomy, my mom and my kids and theirs are around me. Home is a feeling, not a building for me.

    • Nancy says

      I sometimes have that feeling too. There has even been a hotel room that seemed more than merely “homey.” But I am one of those people who feel, I am not sure how to convey it, the… energy… yes, I think that is the best word, the energy of a place. The place I grew up in, the land of peat bogs, temperate swamps, glacially deposited boulders, and rich, dark and dense soil is special. I swear that in that place I came in touch with Mother Earth, herself, as a child. Sometimes respectful buildings are in harmony with the land they reside upon.

    • Nancy says

      Lol. Thank you for making me feel a little bit less guilty about the unfinished things in my life and home!

  4. says

    Nice post on “home.” I agree with you whole heartedly that home is a place where you should be able to let your guard down – your sanctuary. :)

    • Nancy says

      As you may have noticed in another reply to a comment to another recent post of mine…

      (big emphasis on MAY here! LOL. No one has so much time they can read everything, especially on a “new” blog whose author hasn’t been able to respond in kind with reads and comments on the blogs of all the people who have so generously and kindly commented on Reason Creek) … but I digress.

      I am going to write about Kindred Spirits thanks to you and Elizabeth, the other commentator who stirred up thoughts of kindred spirits, for my “K” selection. I think you would like her response to my post The Feminization of the InterWebs that I believe you have read, because you commented on it! LOL. Yes, I think we may be kindred spirits.

  5. says

    Like Linda, I read this and thought sanctuary. Perfect.

    A few years ago, I knocked on the door of my childhood home and was allowed a peek inside. The new (well, not new, but you know what I mean) owners have made a number of changes. Some would be considered improvements, though I’ll admit that they made my heart sink just a little.

    What I’d most like from that old house is the sturdy maple tree that grows on the far south end of the property. I spent many hours perched up in that tree, notebook or sketchbook in hand. It was where I dreamed, planned, and every now and then, cried. For a long time, I thought that if I ever had a ton of money, I would ask to buy the tree and have it moved to my current backyard. I realized some time ago that I don’t need to do that. The tree, my old canopy bed, the knotty pine walls in the back room, and even the smell of bread pudding fresh from the oven–all of those things are with me still and all remind me of home.

    • Nancy says

      Trees! Yes, I had special relationships with individual trees, too! Oh, and scents. They are the most evocative of sensations!

  6. says

    Thanks for your post. I have a similar connection to places where I spent much of my youth. My kids are now attending the schools where I went to school and though they are in serious need of repair, part of me feel sad at seeing them demolished a rebuilt.

    • Nancy says

      Your comment, Mike, made me think of the school building in which I attended classes for grade-school. I loved the old section that was built sometime in the first few decades of of the 20th Century. The rooms were large and well-lit for the most part. The colors were dark and rich. There was real wood, scrolled metal banisters, stone cornices. It smelled of brass polish and linseed oil; at least it does so in my memories. The teachers for the most part, nearly every one of them, were real teachers who taught so much more than words or symbols on a page, and at least a couple of them had positive, life-changing impact on me. Buildings do capture all that has transpired in them, don’t they? My school building still stands, filled with asbestos and memories, closed and decaying behind a locked chain-link fence and tufts of invasive prairie grasses. In my mind though it remains a vibrant place of learning.

  7. says

    Lovely post, Nancy. My family lived in four different homes while I was growing up (two in Illinois, two in Rhode Island), so I don’t have one particular place where all my memories reside, yet each one represents a different stage in my life and they all mean something to me. (I have always wanted to go back to one of them and knock on the door, like you did, but don’t have the nerve.) Over the past decade “home” has been a more flexible concept for me. My mother left her home of forty years and moved into one next door to my brother. Three years ago, with her dementia progressing, my husband and I bought a multifamily house, moved out of our home, and moved her in with us. Last year we had to move her into assisted living, and then we returned to the house that we really consider our home. So I suppose I feel that home is where you make a place with people you love and also where you feel safe and protected. Oh, and I also dream about houses, and they are always big and seem to expand infinitely and go on room after room. I wonder what that means? Loved your post.

    • Nancy says

      Hi Elaine. Glad you enjoyed it. I have been told that dream houses represent the self. If that is true then I think the infinite expansion of room after room is a good, healthy reflection of self. There is so much to discover!

  8. says

    Wonderful post. Home to me is both physical places and a feeling. My childhood safe place actually sits a hundred miles away from my childhood home, next to a river, where we used to camp every weekend. Years of floods, overgrowth and other visitors there, I can still feel the home that rest there, I can almost see my memories acting out a time gone by. <3

    • Nancy says

      Thank you Emily! It is so affirming to hear that my words connected with you in a way that reminded you of your home(s). I agree with you. Home is a place we can go to whenever we want or need to, and it resides within our minds and inside our hearts.

    • Nancy says

      Hi Claudia, thanks for letting me know that you connected with this post! Hope you are in your childhood home for an upbeat, positive reason!

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