We last saw our young witch Laura attending her first modern party and spending her first Christmas in the twenty-first century. Find out what happens next! Chapter sixteen of Golden Threads just went live. It’s called Homesick, and you can click its name to go straight to it or click the book title to find earlier chapters. As always, I love reading your comments and will do my best to respond to them, pronto.
Since you can tell from the title that at least one thread in this chapter is the longing for home, I thought I would raise the question: what is home? And what does it mean to be homesick? We’ve all heard the expression: home is where the heart is. But what does that really mean?
Is this notion simple for you? Some people have lived in one house a long time. It’s filled with memories and keepsakes. Maybe they were even born in this town. When I taught at Iowa State, some of my students told me they’d never even been out of the state. Not even to Minnesota or Kansas.
For me, it isn’t so simple. I’ll call a hotel I’m staying in ‘home.’ I go out for the day, then I go ‘home.’ I still call the house I lived in as a teenager ‘home,’ even though I haven’t lived there since I finished college. I’ll say that I’m going home to visit, meaning not just that house, where my parents still live, but the entire city. After I say that, I sometimes feel embarrassed, because the house I live in now with my dogs and partner is also my home. I find myself qualifying my words, hoping not to hurt my partner: “My parents’ home,” I add. Or “my childhood home.”
Still, somehow a house alone is not ‘home.’ We say ‘he’s creating a home for his family,’ to mean something more ephemeral than the building itself. Home then is a moveable concept, partly attached to a space, partly to the goods inside it, and partly to the people who also frequent this space. Writing this novel has made me acutely aware of the different meanings we attach to the word.
But home is something we can miss so deeply that we feel ill and call it homesickness. If we can’t miss it that much, is it really a home? Or is it just a place we lay our heads? When I’ve a feeling I would label ‘homesickness,’ it hasn’t been for a house, or even for its furnishings, but for the land around it and the people I care about, but I have a friend who keenly misses the house she once lived in.
What do you think? What’s home for you? Have you ever been homesick? For my three characters born in the sixteenth-century, one can only imagine that they might miss the homes they left now that they are no longer fleeing for their lives and have time to think. After all, ours is so different, and their friends and family are all long dead.