They say “home is where your heart is,” or, “home is where your family is.” While I understand the sentiment behind these statements, I believe the truth falls more along the lines of your heart is where your family is; home is where community becomes a part of your family.”
My family and I found ourselves moving between 3/7/2020 and 3/9/2020, just 4 days before the COVID-19 school closures in California. The back story to our move is complicated. Deciding to leave our neighborhood was a struggle; my husband and I were torn between not wanting to leave and the inability to afford a single story home in the neighborhood we loved so much. After many arguments, we decided to purchase a home outside our neighborhood. It was the perfect decision on paper but an impossible emotional decision to have made. Unfortunately, some negative actions on the part of the sellers enveloped the move in a cloud of frustration which lingered into our attitudes about purchasing the house in the first place. Then, four short days after we moved we were confined inside. Today marks the 30th day since the girls and I have left the premises. Yet, regardless of the amount of time we’ve spent here – this house still doesn’t feel like home.
I understand this sounds trivial to some people. I get it, my first-class problem makes me seem shallow and whiny for complaining about a wonderful house when others have no home at all. I can hear it now: we should feel lucky we could afford a home at all; we shouldn’t complain because we still live in a good neighborhood and a wonderful school district; we have nothing to complain about because we made the choice – no one forced us into it. Again, I get it. Believe me – I am grateful for everything we have (including this house). What hurts is that the loss of our community has hit harder than we thought it would. Moreover, the significance of what it means to live in a community you feel a part of is stronger than we ever imagined, and sadly, something I dismissed due to severe pain and a need to have better floors and no stairs.
In the end, what hits me the hardest is looking out the front door and having no connection to the space around me. We cannot go beyond our premises; we have not been able to play at the park or walk the neighborhood; we have not met any neighbors; I’m not driving to and from the house everyday which means this location has not been solidified in my brain as where I live; there is no camaraderie during this tumultuous time – I cannot walk and leave gifts or nice notes for friends on their doorsteps and they cannot do the same for us; I don’t even recognize the sounds – not even the birds are the same in this neighborhood. Beyond my lack of connection to this house, my girls are sad they do not have their friends close; their school is closed indefinitely (unbeknownst at the time, their last day on campus was the last day they would ever see their teachers and most of their friends); and, they have been unable to make new friends in this neighborhood because of the isolation. If we lived in our old community we would be able to take walks around the lake (while social distancing, of course). We would be able to leave notes and drawings on our friends’ porches; we would feel safe and comfortable with the neighborhood we were trapped in; and most of all, everything would be familiar . . . we would feel like we were home. So, to those who say “home is where your heart is,” I say, “move during a pandemic and then tell me whether or not community plays any part of a house feeling like a home.”