Home Is Where The Heart Is

 
HeyJess

I've always been connected to my home — even a bit attached.  I used to feel anxiety when we traveled far from it, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get back quickly.  Over the years I've become a calmer traveler, but the concept that my home is my safe space and the place necessary for recentering and recharging has been challenged in the last week as we were forced to evacuate because of the Woolsey fires.  We temporarily relocated to a Santa Barbara hotel, and it has been a struggle — especially during pregnancy — to stay mentally and emotionally grounded.  

But as I connect with friends who have lost everything and see their loving faces making the best of the situation, as Wes points to the sky above our temporary home and says with sheer joy "Haaai, moon! I love you, moon," and as long lost friends and family reach out to send love and support, a new understanding of the word "home" has evolved. 

Home is not the brick and mortar physical structure, it's not the pictures nor the old love letters that I thought I lost over the weekend.  Home is the amazing man I get to call my husband — who always forgives me when I'm being difficult; it's the ankle kisses I get from Dobby, the long loving sighs that I hear from Dixon, the midnight Figgy cuddles when I wake up for a pregnancy-induced snack. Home is our sweet little boy sneaking kisses to Dobby when he thinks no one is watching. Home is the caring and sweet souls who spread joy and love in the hearts of others.

Today, a retired nurse shared her experience with the Santa Barbara fires with me and gave me a hug in a department store.  I didn't know I had any tears left, but they poured from my eyes while we hugged in silence.  She gave me her number to connect if I want to talk or go for a walk.  Leaving the store, I realized I had made a connection that grounded and recharged me.  And just like that, I was present to the familiar feeling of home again.

While our community will be forever changed, and there will always be a void where loved ones in the neighborhood have moved away, my feeling of home will be spread around each life that has left a footprint in my heart. 

I miss you, Malibu. I miss all my friends, neighbors, my neighbor's dogs — even the ones who pooped regularly on our front landscape. I miss my neighbor’s peacock, the two bluejays who live in our oak tree, and the bunnies that eat up our vegetable garden. I can't wait to see you all again, and until we are reunited, I will look up at the moon, feel the love of "home" in my heart, and know that I can reconnect with that feeling of home wherever I go. From that perspective, my sense of "home" becomes the most freeing it has ever felt. 

My sincerest condolences go out to all who have been affected by the recent fires and my most heartfelt gratitude to those selfless individuals who have worked to support all of us, listened to our stories, protected our homes, fed those who stayed behind, and organized donations for those who lost everything.  You guys are what made the sense of community in Malibu, real for us all. Together we will rebuild our community. #MalibuStrong

I used to think that "home is where the heart is" — you know, like those shabby chic wood signs they sell at Michael's?  I thought my physical home was where I kept my heart.  But through this experience, I was reminded that the people and the community are the heart of what I consider home. Though we are now more spread out than we used to be, we will always have a little piece of home within each other. And while structures have fallen, we are still standing and no matter where we are in the world, we can always come back to each other for that familiar grounding feeling.