Home Is Where You Hang Your Hang-Ups

So far, there are eighteen different residencies that I have called home. A combination of apartments and houses, each holds a cadre of memories and takes me back to a specific time in my life. I don’t know about you, but eighteen seems like a lot. It’s an average of a new place to call home every 2.5 years.

When I stay at a hotel on a business trip or writers conference, I very easily refer to the room as “home,” although there’s nothing about the sterile hotel environment that reminds me of the place I hang my metaphoric hat. I’ve been known to travel with stuffed companions who make my stay-away more familiar, but I’ve never gone so far as to rearrange a hotel room or even bother with the empty dresser drawers.

But the subject of home got me thinking. What is it that makes a home our home? Is it knowing your stuff will be there when you return? Is it the family or partners who will return to the same home or be there when you arrive? Is it simply having a place to go vs. literally being homeless?

I think there’s an inherent skill involved in writing fiction, and that is the ability to draw on scenes and settings to create a world through words. Mapquest can show you where something is and how to get there. Google Maps can tell you what that place looks like. Wikipedia can give you the background of a city, and Realtor.com can tell you the specifics of a house on a certain street.

But can a website tell you what it felt like to be two years old, descending worn gold carpeting on Christmas morning and seeing a pile of presents that Santa left?

Can a website tell you what it’s like to be seventeen and hear footsteps outside of your bedroom window in the middle of the night and know you’re too old to call out to your dad, but to need him to reassure you that it was only a deer?

Can a website describe what it feels like to start your life over in an unfamiliar apartment in an unfamiliar part of town, to hear someone cursing and breaking bottles in the parking lot under your new windows, to be so scared you sleep with the windows locked even though you have no air conditioning and the temperature outside is 89 degrees? And to know that even in these circumstances, you’re in a better environment than the one you left behind?

No. And that’s why, no matter where you stay, no matter where you live, there’s no place like home.

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Author: Diane Vallere

Diane is the author of four mystery series. Like her character Samantha Kidd, she is a former fashion buyer; like her character Madison Night, she loves Doris Day movies, like her character Polyester Monroe, she lives in California; and like her character Margo Tamblyn, she has a thing for costumes. Find out more at http://dianevallere.com/.

12 thoughts on “Home Is Where You Hang Your Hang-Ups”

  1. I can’t even count how many homes I’ve had, but I’m way up there, too. I just Googled to see the average number of times an American moves and came up with 12, which seems low to me. You’ve given me chills with the steps outside your door and the breaking bottles beneath your window. I’ve lived in my house now for 10 years, which is approaching childhood lengths. I find I want to remodel and create a new home out of this one.

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  2. I’m at 15, but I may have missed one. I agree that 12 seems low, but 18 seems rather high, too. I would love to stay in my current home for the rest of my life; it’s a 124 year-old restored Victorian, white picket fence and all. Problem is my husband is a builder and he didn’t build this home. Obviously. He told me he wants to die in a house he built, but when I suggested one of the houses he built for his clients, he wasn’t amused. I figured we could just drag him over… Never mind. Anyway, I’m sure at least one more move is on my horizon.
    Despite loving this house and not truly wanting to move, I know that, as Diane said, wherever I go will be home again.

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  3. Donna-you should work on getting him to believe in past lives. Maybe he really did build that Victorian!

    Theresa-wanting to remodel and create a new home out of where you’re at seems like a regeneration of sorts. And so much fun!

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  4. I have no idea how many homes I’ve had, but I can tell you right now that ever since moving back here (here being my college town, which is near my hometown of Kansas City), I haven’t thought once about moving anywhere else. Which is funny because early in my career, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the possibilities of places we could make our home. (Working in newspapers will make a girl think that way.)

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  5. You had me at the awesome title. 🙂

    Home for me is definitely the people. I like to move to new locations…but perhaps if we found our dream home, I’d want to stay in one place.

    I could SEE little feet on that worn gold carpet in your description. Nicely done.

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  6. Home is in the heart! I can’t count all the “homes” I’ve had. Just writing this is causing a triptych of places to fill my brain. It’s funny, but a lot of the “residences” I’ve lived in don’t qualify, even though I was in some of them for a while. Your descriptions are perfect though. There is no way to describe someplace via Google. You need an emotional investment for a home. Fun post!

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  7. Sorry I’m getting to this late. Home is definitely a feeling for me – more than the surroundings, more than the people, but the emotions.

    And I must be abnormal. I’ve only had five “homes” in my life, including two apartments from my early childhood that I barely remember. Oh, six, I suppose, if I count the apartment I came “home” to as a baby – and I definitely don’t remember that one! I am not counting college, although that is definitely a kind of “home” for me.

    My father and step-mother still live in the house I called “home” for over 20 years.

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  8. I’m late, but I can only say, “Wow.” This is fabulous. The title is so perfect! When my husband and I moved in together, we figured out we’d lived in 21 places in four years (combined). Yikes. I’m a rooty-sort of person, loving to travel but really, really loving the getting back to my space part of travel. I’ve been in the same house for 11 years now, and I was lucky to spend most of my childhood in the same house (where my parents still live), and I’m grateful for that.

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  9. I’m super late to the game, but wow. And whoever picked this topic — nailed it!
    It made me think of my husband’s grandmother. She died in her 80s — in the house she was born in. Crazy. Most of us have to carve out the home where our heart is!

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