This morning, around 10:15, I drove back over to Greensboro to pay a visit to the old apartment. I had a step stool with me, so I could change out the few compact fluorescent bulbs we had installed for some inexpensive -- ok, cheap -- incandescent bulbs. Before I walked out of the first home Lisa and I shared, I took a last look around and whispered, "You served us well, thank you" to the walls that no longer held any reflection of our personalities. Then, I went by the complex office, turned in all our keys, and left without another glance back.
It's been an arduous task, this moving. It's not that far between Greensboro and High Point, not in physical distance. But, it's a world away, going from renting an apartment to owning a house. Not just financially, but mentally and philosophically.
After all, what does home really mean?
There are the cliches: Home is where the heart is. Home is where, when you show up, they have to take you in.
There's the thought that home is your place. There are many people who would die before giving up their piece of land.
For many others, home is wherever their family is.
I find truth in all of these. I had a time in my life when, between school and several part-time jobs, I was never at the apartment I lived in then. And when I was, my then wife wanted to go out, to eat, to shop, to visit her family. For a time, I was rootless.
By the time I really had a place to be, years and children later, I was losing that marriage. And after that, I had an apartment, joint legal custody of my children but only part-time physical custody, and so I was largely alone.
I found in my Lisa and in the apartment we lived in the last six years both the person and the place; I fully understand what home means to me. It's where the rhythms of shared lives come together. We learned the little things, where the smooth places were in the roads leading to the apartment, which restaurants had not only the good food but the good people who came to know us and always make us feel welcome, when the upstairs neighbors were going to be loud, when the maintenance staff would be mowing and blowing leaves onto our patio, when the garbage trucks would make pickups, when traffic would be favorable to our movements.
Now, it's time to learn all those things anew, in a new place. Our home.