House or Home #1000speak @1000speak

02- BOX - 009

Just a house or a home?

I am reaching the age where the offspring are on the cusp of fleeing the nest. The Lawyer will shortly move into a new flat and the excitement is palpable – no more cupboard doors left open – the record is seven in the kitchen just to make porridge – towels that are self hanging… Yes he’s excited too.

Back in the 70s we tended to leave home earlier I think. We certainly did, never moving back permanently after we started at university. Flat shares, flats together, flats bought, house and garden acquired.

But were any of them ‘home’? If asked where do I come from, I now say ‘London’ having lived here for 36 years but back in the 90s I’d have said The New Forest where my parents lived and where I spent the last years before I left ‘home’. Because I didn’t leave home, I left the family house.

When did I first call any of my London houses and accommodations ‘home’? Apart from saying ‘I’m going home’ at the end of the day? When did I make that distinction  in contrast to my parents’ house?

Probably when the children appeared with those butterfly beats of change that are parenthood.

That’s because ‘Home’ isn’t a place or a physical structure, it’s an emotional connection and sense of belonging, a place of heart not head. It takes a lot to disconnect that. And it’s only now both my parents are dead that I can say ‘home’ with confidence. Paul Young didn’t get this with his rather good hit.

Or maybe he did. Maybe he was making the very same point, that it’s about the connection not the geography. The stimulus for this piece was another post by Elissaveta over at A Writer’s Caravan – please visit, there’s a lot of excellent work there. Ellie discusses the Tuareg nomadic peoples who, of course would not have thought of one spot as home, not in the narrow geolocational way we do in the West. That said, I’d hazard a guess their caravans, wherever they pitched camp are ‘home’ as much as Paul Young’s hat.

Which is a long way to say we shouldn’t underestimate the turmoil and upheaval that the poor souls fleeing Syria are going through. To cut the ties to that familiar landscape and those ancestral connections is huge. They are leaving ‘home’ in whatever wide or narrow way they define it and we in the west should appreciate how massive that is for them. We should be thinking of offering a place to them with our hearts and not so much our heads.

This post is part of the ~1000 Voices Speak for Compassion.


About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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35 Responses to House or Home #1000speak @1000speak

  1. jan says:

    I couldn’t wait to get away from my parents – they were pro-Vietnam war and that caused a lot of stress! I always think of the town I was born in as home although I never lived there – I guess because the house had been in the family for a hundred plus years! So terrible about all those folks needing to find a home so far from their own. Devastating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I well understand the urge to go even as I couldn’t stop thinking about the place as home. I fully grasp your frustrations with family and war. It took my father and I until the folly if the Blair Bush invasion of Iraq to agree on the folly of warmongering as diplomatic policy. At least we had that rapprochement before he died.


  2. Elissaveta says:

    This is a very honest post, Geoff. I’m so flattered that my post on the nomad lifestyle inspired you to write this one. Having moved much, like many of us do, I have called quite a few places home but yes, ‘real’ home remains my family house, the one I grew up in (however briefly for before our move to Morocco) and the one my family still lives in. But like you say, I suppose it’s not so much the geography but the connection. And maybe that is why it is okay to simultaneously call many places home…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jools says:

    I recall leaving home for three days at the age of 19, and having to face the humiliation of being ‘rescued’ from a squat-like experience where a ‘landlord’ lived-in and turned as many of the rooms in his house into ‘bed-sitting rooms’ for single women, with no locks on the doors. It took one night with a chair jammed up against the door to recognise my mistake and another before I could admit it to my parents. I left home properly to get married at 22 – young for marriage, but not young for leaving home in those days.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ritu says:

    Home is definitely where the heart is, where my little family and I live, but there will always be another place I call home too, and that is where my parents are. Wherever they are, will always be home for me too!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Helen Jones says:

    I left the UK when I was 11, but it has always felt like home to me. And now that I’m finally back here, I feel ‘at home’ again for the first time in many years. Despite all the other wonderful places I’ve lived, this green island is where my roots lie. And I feel so for those poor people, once again displaced by war. When all you love has been destroyed, where are you to go? And to be forced to leave your homeland, the place where your parents and grandparents and generations before built lived and history, must be a terrible thing to have to do.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yvonne says:

    Geoff, thank you for this. It’s good to read it after I’ve spent much of the morning composing a reply to a hate piece that’s circulating Facebook, claiming most of the refugees are really men sent out by IS to destroy the west – all on the basis of witnessing violence in one camp. Yes, we need to offer them a place in our hearts.
    Like, I left home to go to college and never went back to live, and I’ve found the concept of a geographical home has never really clicked with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. willowdot21 says:

    I truly agree, but I do not know the answer! By the way our boys all left home early, eldest at 18yrs next at 20yrs and youngest at 20yrs ….did we do something wrong?????

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Rachel M says:

    I send my kids upstairs in the morning to get dressed and they leave every single drawer open in their chests of drawers. Do you mean I have to put up with this until they leave home?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. trifflepudling says:

    I remember during my OU human geography course I learned that a migrant is always a nomad in his heart – his heart in one place, his home in another, and he has to re-invent himself every day into this other person in order to feel ‘at home!’ and there is always a sense of loss.
    After my parents’ house, nowhere else was home until I moved in with my future husband!
    A nice post. You will miss those open cupboards!


  10. trifflepudling says:

    oops, exclamation mark crept in after ‘at home’. Tiny keyboard, poor eyesight..

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Charli Mills says:

    I never felt a sense of home until I fled my family of origin. Montana became the cradle of home to me and where I raised children with a much different sense of “safety” than most. While other parents fussed about riding bikes with helmets, I was grateful my children could ride bikes and not know familial monsters. When we left Montana, my sense of home was shaken, but the family hat was intact so we made Minnesota ours. Then the kids grew up and slipped away. We lost our house, knew homelessness and live in rentals. I don’t know that I’ll ever trust a permanent sense of home when it comes to location. This house comes to life when the kids visit, remains tender when the Hub and I are sharing coffee on the porch, is exciting when visitors stop. Home is a state of mind, not a place. So I understand the Syrians fleeing differently. They are leaving the familiar to seek that sense of home. They might find it among us, if we offer our hearths and roofs, our compassion and understanding, our stories and connections.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. herheadache says:

    I absolutely can not imagine leaving the home, country, place I’ve known all my life. Very brave.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Truly home is a state of mind, not a place, but even at that, it can be hard to pin down. But certainly once you have children, wherever you are raising them is home. Family makes home, but I felt ‘home’ after leaving my childhood home & before kids. I guess it’s all subjective. But certainly kids do seem to leave home later now than we did – no animosity, but I couldn’t wait to be on my own & the idea of moving back after school was pretty much not in my head. Life, and the economy, was different 40 years ago…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for this post, and your thoughts on that thing we call ‘home’. I write almost exclusively about ‘home’ in its various meanings and am moved by this post. The plight of the Syrian people –fleeing one place, hoping to make home in another, and many not surviving the perilous journey – how can anyone who values having a home not empathize?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thank you Cynthia. There ave been some lovely heartfelt comments from people whose experiences of home differ widely but at heart it is about heart and hearth. I hope some good comes of people focusing on these people’s plight. The time is never ‘right’ but it is ‘now’

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Home, Heart, Hearth | TanGental

  16. Pingback: House or Home #1000speak @1000speak | TanGental

  17. An excellent, sensitive, post, Geoff. Personally I am with the Tauregs, but it has taken a number of unwanted changes to get there.


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