Our summer focus for the Victoria Classics Book Club, Beatrix Potter, found inspiration in England’s Lake District, where she lived for thirty years. “I remember every stone, every tree, the scent of heather,” the beloved author and illustrator reminisced. “Even when the thunder growled in the distance, and the wind swept up the valley in fitful gusts, oh, it was beautiful, home sweet home.” Here, readers reflect on locations that hold their dearest memories.
“Home,” according to Merriam-Webster, is “the social unit formed by a family living together; a familiar or usual setting; congenial environment; a place of origin, (as in) salmon returning to their home to spawn.”
I was born on Oahu, Hawaii, where I lived for a good part of my childhood. There, ohana, a Hawaiian term for endearing ties cultivated not by family or birth, surrounded my mother, father, and me. This represented home in all of the above definitions—the people, the culture, the weather, the language, the fragrances of the flowers, the food, and my friends. All influenced my deep, deep love for Hawaii.
My parents died when I was a teen, and I was sent to the mainland to live in Washington state with paternal grandparents I barely knew. Later, I married and started my own family. My husband and I bought a house, had two daughters, and put down roots. Home took on a different meaning as it became the place shared with those I love, where I worked hard as a homemaker and stay-at-home mom to provide a safe, happy, and cozy dwelling.
But like the salmon referenced in the Meriam-Webster example, I will always consider Hawaii my true home. Its influences made a permanent impression on me—gifts that no amount of time living elsewhere will ever erase. However, on a recent three-week-long trip to the islands with four friends, my mind returned to my family back in Washington when I wanted to share an exciting experience, a beautiful scene, or delicious local fare, and I wanted them there with me.
To sum up, Hawaii is where my heart is, but my family has my devotion and steadfast love, so I visit whenever I can and hold the memories near and dear.
KAROL A. BARKLEY
No building is really home. Much as I love my current dwelling, birthplace, or childhood residence, the heart of the home is being with family, whether at their place or mine. One of my concerns as an adult has been that I may not see some family members often, or even sometimes, due to distant locations. But when we are together, it’s like we were never apart. Fortunately, having a large family—twelve siblings on Mother’s side and seven on Dad’s—provides lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins. While we are now pretty scattered, we attempt to gather when possible, and I am home again!
I have taken on the old adage “home is where the heart is” as my anchor. I was born in a little town in Germany but did not grow up there. My maternal grandmother lived in another German city, and as often as I visited her, I have a great fondness for her hometown. During childhood, I lived in Orléans, France, for thirteen years. My high school years were spent in Mannheim, Germany, where I have the most wonderful memories of developing friendships, maturing, and finding out who I am. But, alas, none of these locations hold my heart.
I moved to the United States before I reached my twenty-first birthday and ultimately settled in Lubbock, Texas. I fell in love first with the climate and then with the city. I met my husband-to-be, continued my education, married, and had two wonderful boys. My heart is in Lubbock! It is home, a place where one lives permanently, filled with family. I often say it’s time to go to Europe, but when ready to leave there, I say it’s time to go home.
For more reflections on home, see Reader-to-Reader in the July/August 2020 issue of Victoria magazine, available on newsstands or at Victoriamag.com.