By: Shayna Zema
“Home is where the heart is,”
my momma used to say as she tucked me into bed
and kissed me on the forehead.
The only problem is, what is a home and where is the heart?
“Where do you come from?” people ask.
My ancestors hail from around the globe: Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Italy, Brazil.
But I’ve never been there. I can’t speak one word of any of those languages,
So I don’t think I’ve earned the right to call myself “Brazilian,” “Italian,” or “Russian.”
And those places certainly don’t resonate “home” for me.
“I’m on my way home,” I often say talking on the phone to my boss, my brother, my friend.
But this home changes.
It’s my university dorm room.
It’s my native city of New York.
It’s the café where I always sit and write.
So how is it that this definition of “home” can change so much, so fast?
While home might seem to be a fixed location, it has a lot less to do with a piece of soil because it is much more a piece of soul, a beating heart pulsating blood throughout the streets of our lives. A structure constructed with the hammers, nails, and materials of our being—our own thoughts, emotions, feelings.
“Where’s your home?” doesn’t mean just down the street, past the car wash, to the left of the Quikie-Mart. As I drove home for the Passover holiday, the physical geographical location was the furthest thing from my mind.
We have the mighty power to choose our own sense of home.
It becomes the place where you feel like you belong.
Where the ones you love and the ones that love you reside.
Where the friends with whom you share your most intimate moments gather.
Where you are comfortable and simultaneously pushing your comfort zone to grow.
As we move through life, our homes and our perceptions of them change.
We develop new eyes, we experience new stories, new loves, new beliefs, and we expand our hearts.
Movement is a fantastic privilege bestowed upon us
But movement, ultimately, only has a meaning if you have a home to return to.
Home is inside, the heart within.
It is not just the place where we sleep.
It is the place where we stand.
It is the place where we fall, feel, fear, and ultimately, find ourselves.
Home and heart both have doors closed tight.
But it isn’t hard to get inside
Because both have the same shut door
And all you have to do is knock-knock on the door, ding-dong ring the bell,
And be patient as you wait outside because you’ll soon realize that you have arrived at your own front door.
As you take the key out of your pocket, twist it inside the knob, and push the door slowly open,
And discover that home is truly where the heart is.
Mama was right about that one.