Home

I like to think about spaces and home and I think about them a lot. I've written about therapeutic space here and I even have made a start at a little research project on therapists' offices. I read about spaces and home -- books in this area that I really like are: 

Yi-Fu Tuan's interesting little book, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience 

Clare Cooper Marucus' House as Mirror of Self: Exploring the Deeper Meaning of Home

Gaston Bachelard's Poetics of Space

and I read a book years ago about changes in home design reflecting the place given to women in the house -- I think it had Doll's House in the title but I have been unable to find it. If anyone of you know it, please please tell me.

Anyway, a post on La Belette Rouge set me to thinking more about home and I decided to answer the questions she sent to a number of writers. 

1. Where is home for you?

For an Army kid, this is an interesting question. When people ask me where I am from I always feel awkward because in a way, I am from nowhere though I am deeply rooted in New England where my people have lived since the Pilgrims came here.

For the most part, home is the house I live in. And this house, that we rent, is very much home for me. Having my stuff around me makes a place home for me, or so I thought. But that was not the case for the four years I lived in Michigan, where I never really felt at home.

Maine is home for me. I always feel good when I return after having been away. And on a smaller scale, Belfast, Maine is home for me. I feel more at home here than any place that I have lived.

2. What is the difference between home and house for you?

 I have lived in many houses in my lifetime -- 22 I think -- and a few of them have been homes. There is a subtle interaction between place, the actual house, how my life is going, and my things around me that makes a house become home for me. This house that I live in now is small and old and is not a dream house at all. But it is in the most beautiful place, so my eyes are happy every time I look out the window. And the scale of the house suits me and my husband really well. The house works with our somewhat cluttered way of living. It's cozy and even though we rent, feels like ours, like we belong here.

The house in Michigan was also small and cozy but I was never happy with where it is. And what I saw when I looked out my windows was not inviting and I never felt like I belonged there, that I fit in. So that house never really became home.

3. Are you at home now?

Yes, Very much so. We just got rid of our couch, which I never liked. So our living room now has 4 nice comfy chairs. Kind of eccentric but it fits us.

4. Have you always felt at home?

No. I didn't feel at home when I was a kid and we lived in Kentucky or when we lived in Pennsylvania. I didn't feel at home when I was first married and we lived in Phoenix and then in upstate New York. I didn't feel at home in Michigan.

I am deeply at home in Belfast, Maine.

5. What makes a place a home for you?

Seeing my pictures on the walls, my books on the shelves, my baskets of yarn. Having my cookbooks, the cupboards in the kitchen arranged the way I prefer and stocked with things I use. I need to be able to look out the window and see places and people I like. Plants. Cats. My husband. A bird feeder outside the window.

6.How has where you lived impacted you? Have the homes you lived in changed you in any way?

I want to think about this. I know I am changed because of where I have lived, but I need to reflect on this a while to answer this.

7. Do you think you can go home again?

Not really. I lived for 19 years in Portland, Maine. I loved living there. But when I came back to Maine with my new husband, I knew Portland was not the place for us, because it had been the place of my former married life. So we came to a town where neither of us had history. And it is home. Maine is home. My home in Maine has not always been in the same place.

8. How did you find your home?

In the online classifieds of our local weekly paper -- I found it when we were still in Michigan and we rented it sight unseen because we figured that given its location, it would have to be a hovel to not be a good place. We took a leap of faith and wee rewarded.

9. What is your ideal home?

I don't think I really have one. I daydream about what I would do if I owned this house and had a lot of money but day to day I am content here.

10. How many homes have you had?

I think 22 over my lifetime.

11. What is the style of home that you feel most at home in( even if you have never had such a home)?

I like small houses with cozy spaces. I am not drawn to open plan designs at all. I love old center chimney Cape Cod style houses. And small Victorians. I like rooms that have doors that can be closed. I like two storied houses. 12 over 6 mullioned windows. I like wooden clapboards or cedar shingles for siding. Wooden doors. Cottages.

How about you?

© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.