What “Home” Taught Me


Amidst all of the hunkering down at home, I found myself following a thread of thought that ultimately led me to every configuration of four walls that I called “home.” It’s funny what I remember. Well, not “ha-ha” funny, but curious and revealing, giving truth to the saying, “wherever you go, there you are.” Looking through the lens of “home” – that simple, profound, and sometimes loaded little word – I saw myself in every version of the four walls I recalled.

There’s a very early memory of my mother bringing my baby sister home from the hospital on a mid-September day in Connecticut. The sun was shining, the dogwoods were turning, and I was beaming down at the sister who would become my forever-through everything-would never-tell-another-soul friend, my Laotang. In that little pink house that my dad built, I learned a fierce form of primal, sibling love that would stand the test of time and oh-so-much change.

A few years later, we moved to a three-story apartment building. I lived within those four walls until I was 23, and in so many ways, it was an experience that shaped me. Long before I began reading Virginia Woolf, I discovered the utter necessity of, if not a whole room of my own, at least a space! That space was the top tier of the bunk bed my sister and I shared. Believe me, that tiny oasis of personalized turf was off-limits and sacrosanct. Once I climbed that four-step ladder, I was the queen of my own turfdom. Isn’t that exactly what today’s “she-shed” is all about?

Descending was a different matter, rife with all kinds of experiences. My sister and I survived a near-drowning, Lucky, our mutt, was hit by a car three times, my mother and I escaped a fire, and we mourned my father’s passing on the day of my 8th-grade graduation. I know, it all sounds so awful, but what I see is a young girl who cultivated her resilience within those four walls, a young girl who also discovered her hustle. Man, could I hustle! School stimulated my mind and my creativity like nothing else, but odd jobs and gigs raised me up…and eventually, out. I babysat, never managing to master diapering, alas; I tutored; I sold Avon through high school and beyond. That house taught me the importance of being able to create my own meal ticket – no matter what. 

A series of condos followed, mostly a blur against the backdrop of a no-nonsense corporate hustle that made my first husband and me more akin to ships passing in the night. For all of the time I spent alone, surrounded by my four walls, something else was emerging: an irrepressible desire to make my house my home. I didn’t grow up with “nice things,” but I had my father’s deeply rooted appreciation for beauty and a penchant for self-expression to match.

By the time the old house bug became the “MO” of my forever husband, Dean, and me, I was in full throttle, making every inch of every one of those 19th-century walls my own. Thank God for the well-honed resilience and the hustle, because there is no challenge quite like a 19th-century would-be masterpiece – or two, or three! A far cry from the bustling working-class neighborhood where I grew up, I learned about life in the suburbs, in a small town, and in the country, eventually trading in my stilettos for “sensible” footwear that allowed me the freedom to explore nature with a beginner’s mind.

As I look around now, in this quieter chapter, I know that my 1968 North Carolina ranch house is a little bit of everything that every house has taught me about myself. There’s familiarity and comfort in knowing that wherever I go, there I am. I can count on it.


Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Stay up to date with our events and get exclusive article content right to your inbox!

Latest Stories

Other Featured Articles


All Article in Current Issue

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up to date with our events and get exclusive article content right to your inbox!