Where is Home?

We are planning a trip back to Alabama later this month to celebrate my Dad’s 75th birthday and to visit with family (shh … don’t tell him! It’s a surprise!! ). It has been over a year and a half since we have seen our son Charles, so I’m excited about being able to spend some time with him and his wife Rebecca. And Miss Munchkin is currently in Alabama with her Alabama grandparents, so we should be able to see her too! AND several of my siblings are making the trek to Alabama also, so I anticipate lots of family time. I am so excited about this trip!

While talking about this trip, I have noticed an odd thing. Whenever I begin to talk of going back home, I say we are going to New York, when in my mind I am picturing Alabama and I actually mean Alabama. I have noticed that I have been doing this ever since we moved away from Alabama. We moved to Alabama in 1995, lived there for twelve years, and for most of that time “going home” meant traveling to New York. But since we moved to Florida in 2007, and now here to Arizona, “going home” has meant Alabama to me, even though my brain still seems to say the words “New York.” It’s very odd and very confusing to the person I’m speaking to. “New York?” they say. “No, I mean Alabama!” I say. Obviously my brain needs to make some new pathways to my mouth, because I am definitely thinking Alabama and picturing Alabama in my mind!

I am not sure when Alabama replaced New York in my mind as “home.” I know when we made all the trips back to New York in 2000 – 2002 (5 trips in a 21-month period), that I was still going back home then. But when we made our last trip to New York in 2006, it was not home. Home then was in Alabama. And, much as I loved Tallahassee and loved living in Florida, it’s pretty obvious that we didn’t live there long enough for me to make the “mental move” as I am never referring to Florida when I speak of home. It is still north Alabama. I wonder how long I will have to live in one place before “home” becomes somewhere else. Or will Alabama always be home in my mind?

family picture

Our family takend June 2002 at my dad's.


  1. Sandra Foyt

    Home is where the heart is, right? It doesn’t matter how long I live in New York (20+ years now, give or take a couple of years in California.) I’ll always consider the place where I grew up, my real home.

    • Colleen

      You are right, Sandra. And so that means that right now my heart is in Alabama, even though I spent the first 36 years of my life in New York. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Roberta

    This is a thought-provoking post. I’m thinking where you raise your children becomes home for you. I am feeling a bit “homeless” right now.

    • Colleen

      Hugs, Reb! You should feel like Phoenix is home, then, since that is where you are raising N. I think it’s doubly hard when you are not where you want to be (location) and when you are being pulled back to your parents because of their advancing years. When we decided to leave Alabama, the fact that my dad was there didn’t seem to be a big enough reason not to move away. He was always so independent, that even though he was 72, it was difficult to envision that he would need us. But we don’t get do-overs! We can only move forward and make the best with what we have.

      I am going to have to consider more your thought that home is where you raise your children. In some ways, that feels right. But I raised kids for 10 years iin New York, so I’m not sure. Definitely something to think about.

  3. Carol

    “Home” means so many different things. I was born and raised in eastern PA, although we moved several times during that time. There is something about the geography that says “home” to me, even though there is no one particular spot there anymore. My parents moved during my sophomore year in college, so the area where they lived out the rest of their lives was never exactly “home” yet it was, because they were there.

    We’ve lived so many places, six different states all over the country, in the years we raised our children. None of those, including this place where we’ve lived since 1994, feel like home in the deep, fundamental sense.

    On the other hand, whenever I am not here, the place we are staying, be it a motel, friend or family members home, or campground is “home” for the duration.

    Coastal Maine, a place I’ve only visited, calls my soul in a homelike way.

    So, what is home? I guess I really don’t know at all.

Leave a Reply to Carol Cancel reply