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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 2-11-22 - Home is Where I Want to Be

“Home is where I want to be, Pick me up and turn me round

I feel numb, burn with a weak heart, I guess I must be having fun

The less we say about it the better, Make it up as we go along” – The Talking Heads

Last week I focused on things that flew around, as I was flying around. I have been bouncing

around more than average over the last several weeks. No trips planned out of PA for me for at least awhile. It is good to be home. I am reflecting on gratitude for our humble abode and all within it. Home as a concept has such a diversity of meaning. This article, the meaning of home: An exploratory study of environmental experience, by Judith Sixsmith explores the essence of place. It found a lot of variation in what we consider home. It is as diverse as each of our experiences, it is a structure, a sense and a space for expression and nurturing. It can be a place that is safe or not so safe. It can be a place of permanence, or it can be the opposite of all of these things.

When we utter the word home, each and every one of us bring the sum of all of our own experiences into our own understanding of what it is and what it represents us. This article on being homesick talks about how feeling out of your element can make you experience a longing for home and predictability. It is at least true for me that the comfort of my routines, the sounds and even how the differences in light experienced throughout the seasons brings me a sense of safety and comfort. This is my place in the world. I am sure I am not alone.

This whole pandemic thing as focused us all more on our homes. Many people, stuck in their houses and having to carve out workspace and deal with home schooling with all of their hours in their homes, renovated their dwellings. This 2020 New York Times article on home improvements during the pandemic reported a 58% increase in requests for renovations and that home extensions and additions were up 52%. People converted garages into work studios, turned sheds into offices and basements into classrooms. What people paid for these things in this article are actually as much or more than our whole home is worth. We bought a new stove when ours died, our old one did not hold up to the hard labor of pandemic lock down. It will be interesting to see how the pandemic and increased work from home and home schooling trends that picked up in pace during COVID will continue to change our sense of home moving forward.

As I reflect on what homes means me, the space, Julie and our pups, my thoughts are not far from those who have very different experiences. The dark side of the pandemic has been what is happening behind the doors of homes worldwide during the long siege. This article from the United Nations, with reports on violence against women and girls skyrocketing in the pandemic, even as they note that most of such violence goes unreported. I have testified on concerns about increased substance use during the pandemic. I recently saw that binge drinking increased 30% in 2020, the same rate of increase as fatal overdoses. We know that as people are misusing substances at home, with fewer points to intervene as what is happening is less visible to employers and friends. I, like many in the helping professions are thinking long and hard about what we can all do to heal the wounds exacerbated by these dark times.

There is a deep sense of permanence and history in our one hundred and ten-year-old house. Once, a few years after we bought it, a knock on the door brought two octogenarian sisters who shared memories of living here during the Great Depression and into WWII with their extended family living on the third floor. It was built right before the 1918 flu pandemic, so these walls have seen much worse a contagion than we endured. This structure has long been a haven, even before we first turned the front door key in 1998. The 3rd floor is now an art studio, and I am fortunate to have a small office on the second floor. We were plague ready; I hope those first occupants fared as well as we have.

The one underused room in our home is our dining room, the place for sharing food and connection. We hope to entertain more in it soon. We are so fortunate to have a home and that it is a place of refuge and rejuvenation for both of us. For me personally, ever present in the back of my mind as a person in recovery is that I was on a trajectory where none of these things would have been in my cards. It is also true that if I am not careful about my recovery, I could lose it all. Resumption of use rates, even in persons in long term recovery have increased during the pandemic, with isolation one of the biggest risks. Grateful to not be in this data set. Gratitude is one of my main tools for staying in recovery.

I am grateful for heat, a safe space, a place of healing, rest, and rejuvenation. I am grateful for the ability to travel and then have a port to return to after each trip. Grateful that home is a place of creativity for both Julie and I. I am grateful to have had a home with all of our needs able to be met during these long pandemic years. I am grateful that the gathering times in our dining room are going to be in the cards in the near future as this COVID thing winds down. I am grateful for recovery, which made all of these things possible.

What are you grateful for today?

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