Home. How many words are there for home? It’s the concept that counts, not the actual physical structure. Home – one can’t help but think of home now that so many are having to leave their homes, their houses, their villages, the places where many “souls” are gathered in the Old English definition. One’s heart goes out to them; one wishes one could give them a temporary home, a place of refuge. It’s a place where we feel safe. For a child, it means mother. Although the comfort of a beloved pet can also mean home. Abode, domicile, residence, dwelling. But none are as all-inclusive as home. You can feel at home in an abode, or it can simply be a place you return to after a day’s work. Eventually, children will leave and make their own home, the core of a new family group.
True, in Italian the word casa seems to cover it all. Home and house. There seems to be no differentiation. The place one’s heart is. A house can simply be four walls and a roof. A shelter. A cave perhaps. But not necessarily home.
Home is somehow your final destination. At the end of the day, you turn homewards, you go home. I was perhaps five and remember hearing Dvorak’s New World Symphony and when the notes of “Going Home” filled the room I burst into tears. It somehow meant my grandmother to me, and she had “gone home” forever. Even now I cannot listen to it without thinking of her.
We may have nostalgia, feel homesick for what we had, but you would never think of being house sick.
Women were once considered the guardians, the angels, of the hearth. While it was sometimes seen as a negative attribute, limiting woman to her household duties, safeguarding, keeping the idea of home alive, in Ancient Rome it was the women, the Vestal Virgins, who had to keep the flame alive.
Yes. I like the idea of a hearth, a fire around which the family gathers. I wonder now though what that means to today’s young people. That magic fire which can set us dreaming as we watch the sparks fly up the chimney. In Italian too it is focolare, or hearth, while casa means four walls as well as the place one returns to every night. No wonder, I suppose, that even in Italian the English word home is used on the computer, indicating a return to where you started from. As we are all destined to do.