The Time Warp Effect of Home

There’s a lot to be said for coming home for the holidays, reconnecting with family and friends, and spending days in your old bedroom.  To me, this is a holiday routine – I always come home and I love coming home. My house becomes chaotic (a total of four girls will have that effect) and we tend to fall into our same old sister roles, with slight differences over the years. What I like most is the fact that any old routine is possible. Of course, we are somewhat improved every year.

When I am at home, I feel as though I’ve entered a time warp – one that offers familiarity at all turns, security, family and friends, memories, and traditions. Home seems like a bubble. When I’m home, it’s almost as if I could easily step back into time at any point during my life, at any age.

My sisters and I unknowingly tested this theory last Saturday when we all arrived home. It actually snowed! It hadn’t snowed with all four of us home in at least four years. When we were little kids, we’d bundle up and head out the door, sleds in tow, dog following along, and play in the snow for hours. We did this that Saturday, playing at the schoolyard, making snow angels, running and sliding, racing, and all the time laughing and shrieking like little girls without a care in the world, except for cold fingers. This night has its place as one of my favorites in our sister history.

The time-warp of home enables me to imagine what it’s like for someone to return to their rundown town years later and still see it in its glory, with people out and about, shops open, and everyday life all around. It is easy to overlook the disparities of an old, drafty window or a less than perfect backyard because it is my house and yard, filled with my family’s memories, in all of which I easily slip into my rightful place.

I can only hope that everyone has such a place that allows them to step back into time, whether for moments or a few weeks. Sometimes it is hard for outsiders to see what is so special about one place, because they are not capable of looking past the imperfections; however, someone who belongs to that place can easily pass along its history and significance, whatever that may mean to the storyteller. And details of that nature are irreplaceable.

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Conflicting Landscapes

Home is home, it’s irreplaceable and at least for me, it gives me that familiar feeling of knowing everything around me. Moving someplace new and trying to call that place home has been hard for me. I still don’t call my current town “home” even though I’ve lived here for over two years. Part of this may be because I’m moving again next year. So, I reluctantly call Long Island “home” because that is where my family lives, where I went to high school, where I know all of the streets and my old running routes.

There is a big difference between home on Long Island and my temporary home in North Carolina. I love driving home to Long Island because it means a road trip (read: 600 miles, 11 hours) and I have my favorite landmarks along the way, including the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island to Long Island. But as we approach closer and closer to home, including the last five minutes, I can only think about how ugly the scenery is: strip malls, new construction, and unattractive existing buildings. (This isn’t the case for all of Long Island; I just grew up in an unattractive town.) I love to be home, but only because it’s home. I wouldn’t choose to go there otherwise. Yet, driving home to North Carolina, everything just gets prettier as we travel further south. Driving into town with all of the pine trees and the winding roads, it’s impossible to think anything other than how beautiful it is around here: cute houses, long leaf pine trees, that Carolina blue sky, and sunshine.

Occasionally I catch glimpses here in North Carolina that will remind me of the good parts of Long Island, like driving up a hill on my way home from work where the elevation over the trees looks like a certain familiar road on Long Island. And when I’m home on Long Island, I’d much rather be here in North Carolina when I have to run errands or formulate a long running route because it’s just easier here. As different as these two places are, they do seem to reflect each other from time to time. That aspect is comforting sometimes, revealing that no matter where you live, it can become home eventually and the unfamiliar will become familiar to you.

My reactions continue to surprise me on every trip. I don’t want to leave my family and my old friends to return 600 miles away, but I don’t want to stay on Long Island. If only my family would move with me, then I wouldn’t have this problem. I think that choosing a place to live is sometimes a compromise. North Carolina is not perfect for me, but the less populated areas and the beautiful landscapes sort of make up for those 600 miles. I hope that someday I can find a beautiful place that I want to call home.

Does anyone have conflicting feelings of home?