I’m Not Going Home, Not Really.

On his way home from his first year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter said this line to his friends, and that scene ended up having a huge impact towards the meaning of “Home.”  My sister and I, both MAJOR Harry Potter fans, often find ourselves quoting this line from time to time.  My sister quotes it when she watches the movies and reads the books because she feels like she is a student who always belonged at Hogwarts.  Thus, to my sister “Home” means a place of belonging.  While I would have thought the same thing, I have begun to question the meaning of “Home” more recently as I am exposed to different literature.

For starters, in the essay “Home” from Keywords, Home can be seen as a motherland.  That made me question the meaning behind phrases such as “this is your new home now.”  For example in the Kirsten stories, Kirsten, who came to America from her motherland, is forced to accept Minnesota as her home.  Why would the characters, contrary to this definition, in the novel disregard their home of Sweden to embrace Minnesota?  Having stayed in one home my whole life until college, I wouldn’t understand feelings of old versus new homes; however, I would assume that Kirsten’s family could believe they had two homes and wouldn’t need to nearly abandon the other. On the other hand, in Little House on the Prairie, why is it that Indians are forced to evacuate because their native home is not their home?

Keywords also brought up the fact that home is the center of family life, especially in our capitalist society.  So what does that do for describing terms such as homelessness and mobile home.  Does homelessness mean that they are without family or are without house?  For example in the true story of Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, the children move on to achieve noble careers, yet the parents remained homeless in the end.   Although the children tried to reach out and help them, they denied offers because even though they didn’t have a house, their children made them happy.  Therefore it could be said that the Walls’ parents weren’t necessarily homeless- just without a house.  (For a look at the Walls family relationship more clearly, here’s a video from a CBS interview a few years ago) And furthermore, it is clear that within a mobile home while you do have family, the only mobile aspect is the house.  Thus when describing home as a source of family, these two terms carry impact into the difference between a house vs a home.

Today, we brought up in class that the keyword “Home” has two meanings: a domestic space and the feelings that are associated with that space.  Evidently, in the girlhood novels we’ve read thus far, there has been more emphasis on the second meaning, feelings, to home.  Homes provide familial comfort and safety to people, but I think there’s just too much of a confusion on the actual space.  For example, a house doesn’t bring about a family, but a home does.  I feel like anywhere and anyone you share those feelings with, a favorite classroom, a team, a special location on campus, can be considered a home.  So at the end of the semester when I return back to Chicago, would I be going home or not really?

9 thoughts on “I’m Not Going Home, Not Really.”

  1. You bring up great topics for thought, Taylor. Your question of is ‘home’ a feeling or a place makes me think of flight attendants as they spend more time up in the sky with people they recently meet versus at a place where they know everyone and everyone knows them and in an area they experienced childhood. Some would suggest simply knowing people and feeling nostalgic can bring a sense of comfort so would this feeling create a home for an individual?

    1. Oh wow, I never thought about flight attendants (which is weird because my uncle is a pilot, and that is pretty much the same deal.) Yes, I would say that maybe flight attendants consider their working crew as almost a family, and the repetition of working on the plane probably would generate some lifestyle that makes them feel “at home.” You could go as far as to say the new passengers could act as like the “family we’ve never met/ don’t now” too. And yes, I feel like nostalgia is a type of feeling that is associated with home. In my opinion, and experience, most nostalgia can be pinpointed to my home whether it’s a song my mom would sing, a movie my sister and I watched on the VCR until it broke, a smell, etc. It seems like the more family oriented a person is, the nostalgia and feelings towards home are greater. Thank you so much for reading and giving positive feedback! 😀

  2. Taylor, I thought this blog was very good and really made me think. Since coming to college, I have struggled with the idea of this being my home. Every time I talk about Sellery, my new “home”, I have not yet called it home. Even without thinking, I simply call it my house. Yes it is where I have lived for the last six months, but it is not my home yet. To me, home is that place that makes me feel safe. It is where my family is and where I know everything is going to be okay. This feeling which was mentioned in class, the Keywords and evidently seen in the books we have read, is without a doubt how my “home” makes me feel. To me, it is interesting to look at how fast Kirsten’s family made Minnesota their home. It seemed very easy for all of them to change there “home” so quickly. It also makes me wonder about how long, or when at all, at least in college, I will be adamant about the idea of my true “home” and when/if my views will change.

    1. I like how you brought up the safety aspect of being at home. I’ve had plenty of family members come to Madison, so I’ve tried learning how to get along here. However, I’m much different than my family members because I get anxious at times, so I agree Madison might be too big to get used to it as a home. Do you know any clubs, classes, or friends on campus that make you feel comforted and safe? When applying, I got a little wigged out because of the school’s size, and I had to be reassured that I wouldn’t be among all 88,000 or so of us, but rather along the little niches that I developed here. And once that happens/ happened for us, then maybe we could both start to feel at home. Thanks for reading and giving positive feedback! 😀

  3. Wow, Taylor! I really liked reading your blog post because the questions I thought of in the first paragraph were asked and answered in the latter paragraphs. I think the term “home” vs. “house” is a great set of terms to research and analyze. One “home” related phenomenon where parents move while their children are in college is one I find interesting because when the student goes “home”, its not really home. They didn’t loose their first tooth in that house, mark their height on the wall, bang up their knee, and/or have a sentimental space for their room. It’s possibly a house filled with loved ones, old picture frames and similar furniture, but is it home? I, being a student athlete, only go home for Christmas and Thanksgiving. So now, my room here is Madison feels like home. I have grown so much here and experienced so many different things. Therefore, I- like Kirsten have a hard time leaving one behind or solely choosing one. To me, both California home and Wisconsin home are home.
    This also brings up a larger idea of home, for instance- a country, state or city. Is a state your home when referencing it from a far? Is your city your home when referencing it to strangers? Or on a smaller scale, is your sport locker room a home? Is your church a home?

    Thanks Taylor, for this insightful post!

    1. Hey Lily! You bring up some great points as well. Even though I’m not a student athlete, I agree that there might be different perceptions of home in that case too. What do you think it means, however, in sports when you’re “playing for the home team?” To answer your question, yes I think when referencing it from afar, your state/country is considered home (especially when it’s referenced in different national anthems as “My Home…” and if you’re from Alabama or Chicago, a “Sweet Home”) and also to strangers too because when asking “Where are you from?” it triggers a lot of thoughts associated with home. I think if there’s a lot of memories in the locker room or church those might bring feelings associated with home too. Thank you so much for reading and giving positive feedback! 😀

  4. I really liked how you talked about home not just as a space but as a feeling. Like you said, we definitely got a sense of that from Kirsten’s story. The idea that home isn’t always a place you live in is interesting as well. I plan to go into teaching elementary education and would like to create a classroom environment for my students that feels like home. I also think it was fitting of you to use the story of the Walls family and to talk about homelessness. We rarely acknowledge how the absence of a physical home may affect those who are homeless. Do you think they are still able to find places that feel like home?

    1. Good luck to becoming an elementary school teacher; I’m wondering if you had any ideas on how you plan to provide the home atmosphere in your class? To answer your question, I think it may be hard for people that are homeless to have a permanent place that feels like home. In the Walls family’s case, I believe it was mentioned in Glass Castle that they had friends/ were regulars at a local shelter. In addition, I can’t help but think of a family, I’m sure you’ve seen, that usually sits at the end of State Street- Library Mall. Though people move and haven’t fully established a physical home, they still have their family that could bring them a sense of home. Thank you so much for reading and giving positive feedback! 😀

  5. This is a very interesting post and it really made me reflect on my own definition of home as both a place and a feeling. I’ve noticed that I have begun to call my apartment here in Madison home but only when I am in Madison and to my college friends. To me, it is just a place. Not a feeling. When I call Minnesota my home, it is a feeling. It is comfort and safety. It is my family. I don’t think home is necessarily where my family is but where I get that feeling. That’s why home can mean so many things to so many people just as family does. I think that it is difficult to give a solid answer to what any of these terms mean because they are different to so many people

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