Houses and Homes

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I grew up in Houston. When I reached five years of age, we moved into a house on Bermuda Dunes in the Champions subdivision northwest of town. I lived in that house until I left for college.

And no matter where I went after that time, I called that house home.

When people asked from whence I hailed, I’d always say Houston or Texas. Sometimes I’d say, “Texas is home, but I live in London now.”

In all the places I went after I left Houston, I lived a fully integrated life. I had serious relationships. I built incredible friendships. I owned property.

So why couldn’t I call those places “home?”

Over the years, I learned that you can only have one home at a time, even if you have multiple residences. You can also have no home for a short while, even if you have a place to live. None of my family members live in my old childhood home; when the last person moved to a new house and another family moved in, I had no home anymore—until I moved to where I am now.

And even “where I am now” didn’t immediately feel like home.

Slowly, over eleven years, my house in central Houston became home. How? Through accumulated years of holidays and dinner parties and projects, finished and unfinished. Through a community of neighbors who form an extended family group. We look out for each other. We have fun together. We bend for each other’s sorrows.

All my intervening residences missed at least one of these components.

So here’s my verdict:

To qualify as a home, a space needs to

  • provide comfort and nurturing,

  • welcome friends and family for shared moments, and

  • offer a soft cushion of neighborhood community.

What makes a house a home for you?