Home sweet home. Home is such a vague term and yet it holds such a significant place in our hearts. While it technically means the place where a person lives, it is so much more than that. Home can be where you grew up, where your parents live, where you’ve raised your own family, where you live with your significant other or where you hang your coat at night. Home is where you recharge, where you can unapologetically be yourself, where you are the most loved and feel the most accepted. Home is a comfort that can’t be fabricated or merely contained within four walls because it is felt.
I consider a few places home. Alton, IL , where I grew up, is certainly one of them. I was raised in a haunted house on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. Yes, haunted. Yes, I believe in ghosts and yes, I have the stories to prove it. The home of Fast Eddie’s Bon Air, a riverboat casino which never ceases to amaze me with its eye-popping, occasionally shocking color scheme and Robert Wadlow, the tallest man to ever live. I believe my grandmother told me he carried her books for her in high school which, in my opinion, is cooler than a Kevin Bacon six degrees of separation. Sorry Kev. Alton will always hold a very special place in my heart. I breathe easier in this town. There’s a sense of belonging mixed with a heavy dose of nostalgia. It’s the main base for the Greek side of my family, the last place I saw my dad before he passed away, where I choreographed music videos to Bette Midler’s greatest hits and where I spent summers at the pool unaware of the effects of extreme sun exposure. My forehead being case in point.
When my parents broke the news that we were moving to Ohio, my life exploded into a thousand tiny pieces of emotion. As a pre-teen all I heard was we are doing everything we can to ruin your life and you’ll be in braces forever followed by over dramatic evil laughter. I sincerely thought my life was over…and this was during a time in which I wore Umbro shorts in public when I wasn’t even playing soccer. Yikes. I was being pulled away from the “empire” I had built for myself which is how an eleven year old girl views her social life, okay? I was devastated much like Kevin McAllister when Buzz ate all the cheese pizza.
Turns out Cincinnati isn’t all that bad. They have chili-weird chili, single-sex high schools which I found to be another way my parents were trying to punish me, Graeter’s ice cream and all kinds of crazy zoo action. If you’re ever sitting there wondering what I’m up to, I’m 80% likely to be stalking Fiona, the sweetest little hippo on the planet, on social media. Speaking of zoo animals, Harambe was voted for president by thousands of people. So just to recap, people saw their presidential choices and opted to vote for not only an animal, but a dead animal instead. Now I’m not supporting this, but it did happen #fact and I think both political parties, or what’s left of them, should really let this sink in. And if you’re needing a little more humble pie in your life, BE A BENGALS FAN. Football season is right around the corner, so you still have time to get on board!
My mom’s house is certainly home. I mean, technically she truly was my first abode, so it makes sense. I love going home to her house, minus the cement blocks she calls beds. #lakme knows how to make a house a home, I’ll tell you that. Her decorating skills are on point. That house is the last place my entire family will ever all be together so it holds some very precious memories for sure. They say there is no place like home and I have to agree with this whole heartedly. If you’ve met my family, then you understand this completely. My mom, brothers and sister are my tribe without a doubt and wherever they are, I consider it home.
My 500 square foot bat cave in LA is my sanctuary. Someone is going to have to rip me out of this thing with the spells of a thousand witches. I heart my apartment. Been here for almost 7 years. It’s my magic kingdom and the sweetest oasis in all the land. I’ve recently redecorated and God knows I’m getting old when I get excited about curtain panels, shelving and accent pillows. My younger self is somewhere rolling her eyes into a plastic cup of jungle juice.
Home is a feeling. Home is a person. Home is a hug, an understood silence when no words are necessary and a shoulder to lean on when walking seems impossible. Home is a constant. It gives us the strength we need when we aren’t there because life is tough and whether you like it or not, you aren’t always going to come out on top. You are going to have to put yourself back together from time to time and it sure is easier when you aren’t doing it alone. Home is where your heart is. Home is my family, my friends and all of the people who contribute to the sparkle in my life. I know I’m a bit of a wanderer, so thank you for understanding my need to explore and zest for adventure. Thank you for your open arms/doors and thanks for loving the absurdity that is me.
You certainly know how to make a grown woman cry, Jen…so glad I’m invested in waterproof mascara…and there is one thing you need to know and understand: we, your immediate family, are waiting with open arms for the day you choose to stop exploring in foreign lands and realize there is plenty of zest in Cincinnati!
I love this Jen. I’m friends of your mom from st max. I like you lives in LA for 7 yrs. But I always called my small little hometown New riegel, which is close to Findlay and Tiffin Ohio … My HOME. .. it’s where my roots we’re started and planted …..it’s where my heart will always have a special place…. And it’s where someday when God calls me HOME that my body will be buried and a stone will mark my name . I totally get you meaning of HOME
Loved this Jen! Hope-to see u soon in your Cincinnati home! We miss u! Love Carol