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So what is it about a place that makes it home?
I lived in the same house for my first 18 years of life. It was far from pristine. Although Daddy made a good living, the house was in disrepair. The grass was trimmed, the painting was done, but inside, the plumbing was old, the blinds were broken, the floor was worn.
Yet, it was my home because my parents and brothers lived there with me. We were a family. We struggled through much sadness together, but we were there for each other.
When Mom sold the house, after both my brothers and Daddy were dead, I didn't miss the house at all. I missed my deceased family members.
When my little daughter and I shared a small apartment in the rundown section of Providence, it was our home. Because I put Robin to bed there, fed her in her highchair, played with her, had the first two of her birthday parties in that place.
When I remarried, David, Robin, and I shared space at 14 Sargent Avenue. We ate dinner there, had visitors, created Robin's pink bedroom, we hosted David's mother from England, my Mom and Step-father came for Jewish and secular holidays, we watched television, and we shared sad news, hard times, celebrated birthdays.
We moved to Narragansett Parkway, and had a home there for 11 years. We had Passover Seders, friends came over, Robin had dates pick her up there, she got dressed up in prom gowns, and eventually my grandson lived there. We celebrated his first birthday in our backyard.
When I lived with Ted on Long Island, I felt it was my home. His house was in terrible condition, but he had given me love. Not just physical love, but emotional support as well. He was my boyfriend, but also my friend. We weathered Storm Sandy together, fed stray cats, planned trips, worried about his mother, my mother, and the state of the economy.
When I was sick, he helped me. If he got hurt, I rendered first aid.
We ate Thanksgiving dinner together in front of the television when we were no longer welcomed at his family's Thanksgiving dinner.
But then everything changed. Ted no longer cared about me. And the house I lived in with him was no longer my home.
Long Island was where I worshipped, shopped, walked on Fire Island, and I still loved it. But I had to leave it because there was no place I belonged to anymore.
Now I live in Winter Park. Is it my home? Not yet. I still struggle living here. My move was sudden, even very rough at times. When my grandson sleeps over, I don't feel lonely. But we aren't accustomed to this place yet.
Right now, I feel at home driving my car. It was the car I drove to Rhode Island in to sit by Mom as she died. I drove it to Andre's Hungarian Pastry Shop in Queens. I drove to Massachusetts to see Scott while he visited his father. It went with me to celebrate my birthday with Andrea. I parked it at Robert Moses Beach, Field 5, once to walk to Fire Island when Ted stopped taking me there. It was where I ate ice cream from Marvel in Lido Beach. prom wears for busty women
And it was loaded onto the Autotrain in Lorton, Virginia, to accompany me to Florida. Now it helps me drive Scott to school.
It is here with me now in Florida, as it was on Long Island.
Home is not a building, a place, a location. It is wherever you feel like you can be whoever you are, with people you love, wherever they live with you or not, including both friends and relatives. Where you have memories, alone and shared with others.
No, where I live now is not yet my home. But maybe someday it will be. Meantime, the car takes me where I need to go. It helps me cope better. It is the one thing that didn't change with my move. It is like an old friend who keeps me going.
It takes care of me. I must take good care of it. It is what friends do.