Glancing through a few of my Spotify playlists, I noticed how many songs are entitled “Home” or have home in the title. From a marketing perspective, this makes perfect sense. Everybody likes songs that make them feel good, somehow anchored in all life’s changes. But on a more personal level, we need home like we need oxygen. We crave and need a sense of belonging, a place or community that makes us feel safe, loved, and known.
Yeats closes his poem The Lake of Innisfree with the lines: “While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, / I hear it in the deep heart’s core,” tapping into the sense of longing we have when we’re away from home. Edward Sharpe, on the other hand, sees home for its intangible but equally powerful draw as one physical place (and honestly, my favorite definition in song): “Home is wherever I’m with you.” I can relate to both perspectives.
In recent years, home has become a fluid concept for me. Moving to Tennessee for essentially four years and spending one of those semesters in Italy, I realized it is more than my permanent address in Florida. It’s more than this neighborhood where I’ve grown up, familiar brick streets, Publixes on every corner, fireworks at the lake on the Fourth of July, blue shutters and palm trees. Home really is anywhere I am with people I love. And that’s been the hallways of dorms during heated Dutch Blitz games with suitemates. The hills of Pocket Wilderness where on picnics and hikes, Tennessee showed off the colors of autumn I’d never seen. It’s been the narrow streets of Venice. Laughter-filled movie theatres with friends. Even my workplace, a classroom filled with bustling toddlers quick to babble, cry, pore over Eric Carle books, and give hugs. And yes, it is the sweet one-story house we moved into on my fourth Halloween, the place where memories of school work and meals and, flour fights in the kitchen and late night conversations with my sisters live.
Okay, so listening to all these songs about home are bringing out whatever sentimentality’s in me… But I believe it’s true–wherever my path winds, however much scarier the world gets, it’s reassuring to remember home isn’t limited to a singular location. It’s not just nostalgia and memories. It’s breathing and dynamic, and it’s only as far away as I make it. I’d take it a step beyond the song. Home is wherever I love those I’m with.