I once bought a pair of gray canvas sneakers (gray because white is a little too clean for my messy life). I bought these sneakers with a dream in mind - a dream to make them my own little walking mantra. I wanted to embroider these shoes with words that I could carry with me wherever I went. I needed words that would ground me and remind me of places I’ve been and give me courage to go to the places unknown.
As I recently took a trip home to visit my family, I was reminded of these gray canvas sneakers. On this trip, I stayed at my childhood home. As a dreamer and a thinker, I, of course, encountered many reflective moments throughout my time there. I kept thinking about this place called home. Many have tried to wrap their minds around what home is. Is it a place, a person, many people, a feeling, a color, a smell?
I now live across the country, you see. I’ve lived away from home for many years at this point. I’ve had time to reflect on home. I have a cozy apartment in a sleepy western WA town where I live with my cozy hunk of a husband. It is home.
And, when I traveled 2000 miles across the country to visit my parents in their big messy house with every snack imaginable and it’s familiar stone fireplace, that was home, too.
Home is also where the heart is. I know, it’s cliche, but it’s true. Home feels like it’s halfway around the world in Amman, Jordan where I spent my junior year of college studying and living and growing and learning alongside a few of my very favorite people. Home is also with those people, those roommates who played an important role in shaping my worldview and my heart and my capacity to connect.
Somehow, home is also in places I’ve never been. It’s in Ireland because my family comes from there and I feel connected to my heritage and the culture and the country. I have this feeling that when I finally visit, I might never leave. (My husband says he’d be ok with that as long as he can come, too.)
I feel at home when I’m outside, in all the whimsical and dreamy and beautiful places God has created for me to roam through.
Home is at my keyboard, pouring out my thoughts into a puddle that feels more concrete on paper than it does dripping through my brain. It’s the moments where I’m sitting with a book and I read a line that puts words to a feeling deep in my soul I didn’t even know I had.
In all these thoughts, I know what home is not. It’s not merely a place or a building or a person. But, maybe it’s a combination of all these things. Maybe home is a recipe and it’s a complicated one. A dash of my childhood room plus a whole bundle of deep friendships plus a longing for a place that calls to me plus a particularly laugh-filled evening with my family. Maybe each of our recipes for home look different. Maybe our home really does sit in our hearts and our hearts are given to a wide variety of people, places, and things.
Before I left for that semester abroad in Jordan, I was frantic, I think a lot nervous and a little on the hunt for a piece of that recipe for home that I could take with me. It was in these frantic moments that I remembered that pair of canvas sneakers that I had long wanted to embroider with something meaningful. They had sat in my closet ready to guide me for a while now.
The day before I left, I finally settled on adorning them with an Irish proverb in bright colors. The proverb says, “Your feet will take you where your heart is.” I think those shoes captured something about home for me. They reminded me of the creative juices constantly flowing through the walls of the house where I came from. They gave me permission to find my heart in different places. And, I think, they were the beginning of my understanding that a concept of home changes and grows as we grow. My heart doesn’t have walls like a physical home. My feet could take me a million places, and my heart would still have space for more.
Your feet will take you where your heart is, and home is where the heart is. Our feet are constantly taking us home, and home is in a million different places and feelings and moments.
May you find the pieces of your recipe for home all around you.
Hi, I'm Emma!
A Maryland girl who moved to Washington state seeking adventure, I adore writing and delight in sharing my favorite things. I celebrate whimsy and you can find me doing a happy dance when something really strikes my fancy.