This I Believe

Jeannie McNair - Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Entered on March 23, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family

I’ve lived in Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and Kingston, Jamaica. I’ve lived with friends, lovers, my family and now my husband. I’ve lived in mountains, on the ocean, in the city and in the country.

Home has almost never been the physical place where I lived.

Last week I was visiting old friends in New York City (a place I am barely “at home” navigating). At about two in the morning in an overcrowded car driving through the city, Talking Heads sang it loud and clear, “Home is where I wanna be, but I guess I’m already there.”

I WAS there. Singing at the top of my lungs with my family of friends, my belly full of foi gras, oyters and champagne, I was as at home as I’d ever been.

I thought about it and I’ve been at home in some rather peculiar places. I’ve been at home in caves eating campfire-cooked corn on the cob. I’ve been at home cheering loudly at football games with my family of 50,000 fans. I’ve been at home sleeping in my grandmother’s bed on her satin pillowcases. I’ve found my home in John Irving books. Home has been a grove of mango trees on the grounds of a convent.

Growing up, my family took lots of canoe trips on the Buffalo River. Each time the family stopped to rest on a shoal or cook dinner on a beach, I would jump in the water. I’d go to the bottom of a stretch of mild rapids. Then I’d climb the rapids, pulling myself up by grabbing rock by rock letting the water flow over my back.

When I had trouble sleeping as a young child, my dad (a writer) would vividly describe that feeling of climbing up the rapids. He knew that under the water I’d found home and I was comforted to sleep.

I miss my family and don’t get to see them as often as I’d like. But home is what I believe in. It takes many forms. Most often in my life, it’s been people. Sometimes it’s just me. Occasionally it’s the perfect place. I’m lucky to have found my home in so many places. I’m anxious to find home in many more.