“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”Maya Angelou
Home is both a physical space and a metaphorical expression. It can be contained within walls, soft carpets, familiar furniture. Or it can be a space that only exists in memory; a childhood home that was sold long ago, a state or country far away that was our birthplace or the house we raised our children in but in time outgrew. It can be a city or town that feels like our second skin, or sadly, the very opposite. Home is a construct that crosses all cultures and is universally understood, and yet strikes a personal chord in each of us.
We, the Viewfinders community, have armed ourselves with our cameras in search of what home means to each of us. We offer our visual short stories here today.
I live in Seattle with my family in an old 1909 American Foursquare home that was a bed and breakfast for twenty-five years before we bought it. It is a house that was known to many in our neighborhood as a place for relatives to stay when they came to town or the venue they used for their rehearsal dinner, family reunions, or charity luncheons. We bought it on a lark when it came up for sale six years ago, intending to transform it back into a family home. It made no sense at the time. We didn’t need a large home on a busy street, and we certainly didn’t need a home that required years and years of construction projects. But when I entered the home for the first time, I was a goner. At the time we bought it, the house was dark and heavy, but there was no mistaking the beauty of her bones. The first thing we did was open her up to the light again. We removed years of wallpaper, heavy window coverings, and yards and yards of area rugs. We added big windows and glass doors so light could flood the interior spaces. The garden which had fallen on hard times was nurtured back to life over the course of several years. This home, the one my children will remember forever as their childhood home, is captured in glimpses here today. — Deb
Two photos, which hold my idea of home:
The chair. It’s maybe my favorite spot in the house, even though I don’t sit there often. It’s nestled in a corner with big windows and it’s old but super comfy. The kids sit there all the time. When one of them leaves things behind, well, to me, it’s evidence of life lived. I love that.
My husband, my son, my daughter. Even if we’re away from our physical home, I feel like I’m home when I’m with them. They are my people. They are my heart. They are my home.
Home, for me, conjures up so many thoughts. I grew up in Nigeria, but I have now lived in the US longer than I lived there. Both places occupy the space of home for me. Like everything in life, it’s complicated. Sometimes when I’m there, here is home. Often when I’m here, there is home. More than a place, though, home is my family. So I have chosen two photographs that embody home for me. Because I cannot think of home without thinking of this table, the one I grew up eating at, in the house in Enugu, before my parents were gone, when we were all together so long ago. And I cannot think of home without thinking of these precious people, my family (including Nwokedi, who is just outside the frame), sitting around the table, sharing a Thanksgiving meal a couple of years ago. ~Chinwe
I am torn between two homes: my hometown, the (Canary) islands where I was born and Northern California, where I have spent most of the best years of my life. When I am in California, I dream of my first home; when I travel back to my islands, I can’t wait to get back into the routine of my home in California.
Sometimes I feel, though, that I don’t truly feel at home in neither of the two places. That is the curse of the immigrant, I have heard. I also sometimes I wonder what it would be like if we lived somewhere else for more than a decade. Would I call it my third home? Who knows, I might just have to move again and find out…
Home is anywhere I can roast a chicken. And feed my family and friends. The salting the skin a few hours before, the smell of the chicken as it cooks, the laying the table while making the gravy, the carving up of the bird, the serving it on plates. That is home for me.
The image below, taken this spring, sums up home for me. The late afternoon sun slants across the dining room table, made by my husband Dan. Flowers from our garden, picked by me earlier in the day, grace the table, and candles are at the ready for an impromptu meal with family or friends. And a puzzle is always there at the end of the table, waiting for a quiet moment like this. –lucy
When the prompt came up for our community post as HOME, I was immediately excited. I love my home- and every corner in it. We had just recently remodeled our bedroom, so at first, I thought I would share an image of this new room and how it holds so much peace and is a sanctuary for me. But the more I thought about what it means for me to be home, the more I realized I was always home when I am with my family. We can be on vacation in Italy or La Jolla. We can be on a fun day trip to our favorite brunch spot or protesting an important cause. We can be out on a walk or quite literally all hanging out at home. But none of these destinations mater as much to me as my little family. When I am with them, I am home.
Home for me is being on a beach with my husband and kids. It reminds me of childhood vacations swimming in the ocean with my parents and my brother. The saltwater and sun on my skin feel like a renewal of body and soul. Walks on the beach, taking on waves with the boogie board, diving for sand dollars, and playing catch with the football gives us time to reconnect as a family. Traveling to the sea always feels like a homecoming of sorts. Nostalgic. ~ Laura
About three years ago we moved from our gorgeous, one-hundred-year-old house in the heart of the city to our 1980s split-level in the suburbs. Our house is our home, but not necessarily because it’s our perfect dream home. It’s our home because we’ve built our family in it. It’s our home because we’ve filled it with the colors and the images, the smells, the friends, and the family that make us who we all are. It’s our home because it rings with the love and laughter of our lives.
I’ve created a home in lots of places – at one point in our lives, we moved 7 times in 6 years. Through all the moves, it seems like the first thing we always set up is the kitchen. It’s the place everyone gravitates to and spends the most time in. It’s what I think of when I think of home – the meals we prepare, the smells, the dishes we clean, but most importantly, it’s the time we share in that space with others. Here are a few of my “homes” from over the years. –Angie
It seems like home is all I have had on my mind lately, as my husband and I are getting ready to sell ours. We have lived in our home now for almost 33 years and with each box I pack, memories flood me. This is the home where we raised our three boys. This is also the home where two of them brought their future wives home for us to meet. I have cooked thousands of meals in the kitchen, pulled buckets full of weeds in the gardens that surround us, and learned almost everything that is important in life on this patch of land. The next chapter scares me something fierce for sure, but it also presents itself with wonderment and possibilities. The one thing we have not brought into this home is a grandchild, but we look forward to welcoming him or her into our next home come January. A new chapter, closer to family, downsized a bit in size, but not in love.
Kim Thompson Steel
There are two areas in my house that I most often photograph – one is my dining room, and one is the front window of my living room. The two things they have in common are good light and the fact that they are where my family and visitors usually gather. Our little daybed in the living room window has the best light for lounging and reading and sipping coffee, it’s where the dog most likes to snuggle, and it has become its own hashtag on my instagram feed – #moseycouchseries. It’s the kind of place I hope my daughter feels nostalgic about long after she (and we) have moved on from this house. That’s what home means to me… a place that not only provides warmth and comfort, but evokes memories.
Home. It’s where I put down roots, even if I’m traveling. It’s where I plant flowers and grow trees and harvest herbs to season our meals and nourish us. It’s wherever my husband and my dog and I travel together. And it’s wherever I am when I visit with – or get visited by – family! This summer, we had a chance to spend time with my niece and nephew on their annual summer holiday “home” (they live in Beijing). Yesterday morning they returned, and by now they are now “home”, but I’ll be reliving our fun memories in the months to come. ~ Holly
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From our homes to yours. Thank you.
—– The Viewfinders Community