Rather than leave a long comment on this post by Standing Naked, I felt inspired to seek out some answers to her questions on my own post.
In my daily frame of my mind, I consider home to be the tangible house I own, where I reside with my wife and child. The place where I eat and sleep, and where the bulk of my income is sunk into.
But on a more subconscious level, I think of "back home" as the land I grew up in, my parent's house, the farm we spent our weekends at, the schools I attended and the streets I was reared on. Rather than a specific place, home consists of a series of memories.
As George Webber finds, in the events so eloquently narrated by Thomas Wolfe, "You can't go home again." As trite and overused as that saying may be, it is one that is true on a multitude of levels.
The most obvious and common of truths - and the one I am primarily concerned with here - is that the home we leave behind is never the same as the one we return to.
I can relate particularly well to that notion on a personal level, since I left my family and country behind at the age of nineteen.
I have been back many times, and I've never found the same place twice. I've become a guest at my parent's home, a visitor at their farm.
Gone are the days when I felt comfortable driving in third world traffic, or walking defiantly through their rough streets. When I'm there, I think of home as the place where I now live.
So where is home?
Presently, I can't think of home as being anyplace other than where my wife and daughter are. But I'm well aware that it is an ever-evolving concept, not restricted to time and place, and not subject to marginal definitions. Home may very well have been a shelter last week, if the weather had been less kind toward us.
But it's not due to a matter of unity, or the strength of the family nucleus holding it all together. I base it more on the fact that my personal comfort and well being are decimated when not in their presence. My levels of concern and stress rise exponentially when they are outside my easy reach, beyond my immediate protection. Having them outside my view makes me jumpy and uneasy.
Though it is literally impossible, or at the very least highly improbable, to be with them at all times and to ensure their safety, by sharing quarters with them I am able to secure my own night-time rest and the suggestion of peace of mind during my waking hours. When I am away, the presumed thought that I will be with them again soon, allows me to stay focused on my responsibilities and not dwell on the uncertainties life brings. Thus home, is a state of mind, wherein we find comfort and shelter from the world around us.
Just some scattered thoughts on the subject, really.