Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
- John Howard Payne (1791 - 1852)
I’ve been wondering what makes a home.
We bought a new house and I like it. But it doesn’t feel like a home. I don’t think it’s because it’s new or our belongings are spread out in it. When we moved into our old house, it felt like home. And it can’t be the people, since they have remained the same.
My parents’ current house, in which I lived from the age of 9 to, uh hum, 34 [another story], has never felt like home to me.
When I think of home, I think of my great-grandmother’s apartment in the 800-year-old farm building in Oberalm, Austria. No running water or in door plumbing. Heat from the wood-burning cook stove in the kitchen. Bee hives in the apple orchard on the other side of the mill canal. Feather beds. Kosher salt encrusted fresh rolls delivered to the door each morning. Running through dandelion covered pastures. Ice-cold streams fed by snow melt from the Alps. Grown-ups in drunken revelry singing bawdy songs in a Bavarian dialect. The Madonna looking down on it all from her place of honor on the wall. My great-mother’s snuffbox. My great-grandfather’s pipe. The neighbors checking that I am being spoiled properly. A hot steaming bath in the washhouse. Perfectly cut, and evenly stacked firewood. People saying “Grüss Gott” to each other as they take their strolls in the evening. Sunday High Holy Mass in the village’s small church, complete with Latin and incense. Sunshine and geese chasing you through the fields.
My home and heart are in another time.