Last week I was talking with an old friend, who bemoaned, “Mom is selling our old house and moving into a retirement community. That makes me sad, and a little angry.”
“Do you mean you’re sad because your mom will be further away?”
“No. Not that. It’s like she is stomping on all my childhood memories. I was raised in that house. It has always been my HOMEPLACE.
Robert Frost defined “home” as “the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in”. There is profound truth in that. But homeplace takes it to an area of nostalgia, warmth, and memories. Your homeplace is where your family gathered every evening over dinner and discussed and solved the troubles of your world. It’s where Dad told you how to handle that school bully, and where Mom reminded you to take your cap off at the table. It is where you prayed, “God is great. God is good…” and “Now I lay me down to sleep…”
Your homeplace is where your dad met that scared boy that knocked on the door to take you to a movie, and did a thorough assessment before he let you go out with him. And it’s where you wrote in your diary and cried yourself to sleep when he didn’t call you. That is the place where you dressed for graduation, and where you spent hours practicing lipstick application in the mirror. It’s the location of magical Christmas mornings, and of Easter baskets and dying eggs with Mom. Baking cakes and cookies, and licking the beaters.
Your homeplace is the storage place for all your childhood memories. It’s where you played with your first puppy. For my friend “That back yard is where all our pets are buried. Oh Ginger, do you remember when my brother’s hamster died, and we had that elaborate funeral for him? The little rock headstone he made is still there.”
Oh yes. I do remember. We had our own pet cemetery in our side yard. Her house was just across the street from ours, and that is where I learned to dance, and where I got my first awkward kiss. The street in between is where we rode our bikes, skated, and drew hopscotch patterns with chalk rocks.
But, as Thomas Wolfe observed, “You can never go home again,” because your homeplace is about the people you shared your life with. My friend could buy the house from her mother, but without family and old friends, it’s just a house, albeit a house full of memories.
I believe your homeplace is where, when you go there, you find that part of you never left.