What does it mean to create a home? Over the past few months I’ve been thinking about this question. Settling down, as in putting down roots in one place, is something that I haven’t had to face before. But since my husband will be finishing up his PhD hopefully in less than two years, it something that I have to start mentally preparing for.
For the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to sit in a class on immigration and migration in Asia. In the past week, I’ve been challenged to think about what “home” means. For migrants, home can have multiple meanings. It could mean one’s country of birth, family, different places one has traveled to, a car, a boat. While listening to author Ha Jin talk about home, he described “home” as more of an action or having agency rather than a physical place. Home is something that you enjoy and put your energy toward. These words really struck a chord with me, because for the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about home as a specific place I’d like to raise my family in, a place where I’d like Lucas to grow up in. Anticipating what home could or should mean gives me anxiety. After my husband finishes his PhD, where will we go? Who will we become? Ha Jin’s definition puts a spin on the meaning of “home” which gives me comfort and assurance. I enjoy my job, I enjoy exploring the Triangle Area, and I enjoy being with my family. Putting my energy into these activities are my home. Creating an environment of love and care for my family is my home.
Usually when I pick up Lucas from daycare, he greets me and then immediately says “home.” This is because for the first few weeks he spent in daycare, I said “now we go home” when I picked him up at the end of the day. Last week, instead of going home after daycare, I took him to a store we normally don’t go to. After about 15 minutes he said “home” a few times. I realized then how much he loves routine, and also how much a strange place can elicit a longing for home, a longing to feel secure.
When we move in two years, a new place will be a strange place for Lucas. Home will have new meanings, but it will be the familiar things we do, like having dinner or playing at the park together, that won’t be strange. We put our energy into what we do as family, and this creates a “home” for ourselves in our interactions, dynamic spaces of surprise, hope, love, and longing. I’m no longer anxious about settling down or putting down roots. My roots are here, they’re now, they’re flourishing in fresh soil, the soil of my soul, actions embedded in memory and given to those I love, and shared in my efforts, my energy. Yes, my roots are home.