Houses and Homes

I’ve been thinking about houses (reading Tracy Kidder’s “House”) and homes (just finished Roxane Gray’s “An Untamed State”) lately, what they mean to us as physical shelters, emotional cocoons, family gathering places, and remembrances of our roots. I realize more and more how important home is to me: the familiar pictures on the walls, the pots and pans in the cupboards, the old quilts on the beds, the books filling walls throughout the house, the bicycles hanging in the garage, the sweaters and jackets in the closets, their thickness depending on the weather of the home’s geography, and oh, so much more. 

My husband and I recently counted the number of houses in which we’ve lived during our 28 years of marriage: we’ve owned ten houses, rented too many temporary, transitional apartments to count, and planned dream homes on five lots. Home is also that corner of southeastern Washington among the wheat fields, vineyards and Blue Mountains called the Walla Walla Valley.

We are once again in transition, returning to the west coast from Austin, Texas, our home for the past two years. I miss my friends and the community that I developed in northern California, as well as its physicality and multitudinous beauty: the sweeping, rugged, windswept coast, the oak trees, granite boulders and hiking trails of the Sierra foothills, the vineyards, rolling hills and wildflowers of Napa and Sonoma, and the redwood cathedrals of Humboldt County. We will make a new home in Sonoma County, close to Sea Ranch, San Francisco (and Bay Area friends) and not too far from Placer County (home to my wonderful bookclub women). I am sad to leave my new friends in Austin but feel like I am going home.

This Thanksgiving holiday will be spent with Christopher, Kate and Alex at our Boulder house. We will walk, hike, talk, eat (both boys love to cook) and visit with my brothers and several nieces and nephews. I hope this home provides the physical and emotional draw to my sons as it does to me, a place to reflect, to find sanctuary, and to be loved. For that’s what home is, a place where we find the perfect angle of repose.

[Photograph courtesy of Dean Perrault]