Returning Home -1 4


What does it mean to return home?   

Is home a physical place you go to or live in?  Or is home a place you hold in your heart and carry with you? 

Can you go home again?

Can you not?

I am in the middle of a visit to my hometown.  It was a suprise to my Mom, although my sister and brother knew I was coming.  Today we all had lunch together and went shopping.  The usual banter was there, the gentle nagging between we three bossy women (although my sister is the bossiest), my brother being mostly quiet and laughing at all of us.  My niece, so lovely at 15 and now noticeably private, without the openness of her younger years.  She is unfailingly polite but clearly tolerating we older folks as best she can.

Home.  Home place.  St. Louis is my home place.  I have lived away from it longer than I lived in it – more than three times as long.  Still, this home place defines me.  St. Louis flows through me.  I was literally baptized in its river, the mighty Mississippi.

St. Louis is no longer my home. I’ve made my home in Boston although it’s feeling less like home than it used to.  Especially now that my children live hither and yon.

I think of home as a place  to which I’m connected through blood, years and experiences.  The home I made with my children no longer exists.  The home my mother made for me and my siblings doesn’t either.  She lives in a space that none of us children shared.  We are welcome wherever she is, just like my children are welcome where I live but these places are not home to them.  It is the way of the world that a lot of us move away, move on.  Technology helps bridge the distances but…

Luckily, we are able to create home and community wherever we go.  Blessedly my familial ties are still strong even though there is no brick and mortar family home.

A friend of mine recently sold the home that belonged to her family for 90 years.  She couldn’t afford the upkeep any more.  Having been an owner for many years, she is now a renter – happy to no longer have the responsibilities of maintaining an old New England house.  Still, something is lost when your home space is gone.  Ties are looser.

Home binds us even if it only exists in memory.  The decades-long rituals of our family so tied to my late grandmother’s Wednesday night dinners dissolved after her passing.

I come home.  Home has changed.  Home has remained the same…at least for now.


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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4 thoughts on “Returning Home -1

  • Anonymous

    Apropos of you and your sisters, yesterday was National Boss Day.

    Since my parents died, home has become a mysterious concept. I feel homeless in some ways, although I realize too, that my wife and I are our children’s home, wherever we go.

  • Wendy

    Wonderful thought provoking piece. Home…a complex, difficult concept to sort out these days for those of us displaced from our country or state of origin with scattered family. Would love
    to continue the discussion further. I’ve done a lot of thinking lately of the difference between “home” and “community”.

  • Carolyn

    This piece really resonates with me because at this time in my life I am feeling as if I have lost connection with home. My hometown of White Plains, NY definitely no longer feels like home to me. My parents and all the “extended family” of my youth are no longer there. I have been in Boston “on assignment” for over 13 years and my feeling of “being transient” has begun to take its toll. Perhaps 13 years is long enough for a person to just “claim” the 13-year location as “home” but Boston does not feel like home to me and I have not figured out “why it doesn’t.”
    That being said I am actively seeking out a place where I can make it my home; so home to me has become a place in my heart that is crying out for a location. I am confident that I am on my way to creating that place that will allow me to connect what is in my heart to a foundation upon which I can establish my “home.”

  • Candelaria

    What a thoughtful response.
    I have learned that we have to make home wherever we are.  Like you, I spent a few years of my life in Boston not really embracing it as in fact my home place.  I have had dwellings like that to.  Home is me and where I settle – family home is different.  With all those people I care about hither and yon, I now have three distinct places I consider home.  Hope you create yours soon.