It started innocently enough, with our local sailmaker and friend Carol Hasse saying, “Oh, you MUST meet these two new friends of mine! You will absolutely LOVE them!” So she set up a blind date of sorts at our hometown pub: my husband, Jim, and me, with these two strangers Oscar and Bill, who were probably thinking, well this is different. Hasse said, “I’ll be there to introduce you.” And then she had to bail because of a sudden change in family plans, so we introduced ourselves.
Fast forward going on five years: we’ve been meeting every Saturday afternoon for the fine art of conversation with a small group of about six people who, if they had thought of it as a career, would’ve been humorists. They include a bookseller, a lawyer, a nurse, two biologists, a software developer, and occasional guest appearances by boat builders, magazine editors, and writers. All share a love for sailing and books. But it’s the laughter that keeps us coming back, week after week. We even have our own regular table, a round one so small that everyone has to crowd in knee-to-knee, but that’s how you can hear each other and maintain a conversation with the entire group when the pub gets noisy. We don’t use prompts because someone always starts with an interesting story, and it’s amazing the material you can mine from a life you might otherwise think is not extraordinary.
We know the pub’s staff, and its owner, who all greet us by name. (Yeah I know, echoes of Cheers here, but it’s true!) Five years of puns, jokes, laughter and conversations about books, food, music, travel, pets, the comedic aspects of religion, and other humor threads that become wild rides into hilarity. The wit has echoes of the Algonquin Round Table, with occasional doses of the Three Stooges. Though there are no rules or prohibited topics, politics rarely enter, because politics can be a buzzkill these days, and besides, there are so many fun things to explore. The pub has become such a weekly home that Jim and I, after ten years of being together, actually got married there one December afternoon, with 40 sailing friends witnessing. Instead of a sermon, the officiant, who was no slouch in the humor department either, read from “The Book of Getting Spliced,” which of course we wrote with the help of a few friends.
Defining home and sense of place is like trying to define life itself; it’s where you start from and return to; it’s what you discover, talk about. Upon reflection it can be endlessly interesting but also ineffable, a collage of favorite places, but also of favorite people. A mix of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings, the starting place for dreams, the dwelling place for memories. A shelter, a town, a region. A forest, an ocean. A planet. A writing group, or a book club. A place where a neighbor stops by and says, “Hey, come on over and pick some zucchini, green beans and blackberries,” and then proceeds to give you a recipe for blackberry pie. (This happened just now, as I was writing this essay; at first, because his recipe was long and involved and led to other discussion topics, I was growing impatient to get back to writing so as not to lose my train of thought, but then I smiled and realized, HA! This too is exactly what home means.)
Home can also be an ache, especially when you miss it. Or when you don’t really have one.
It can be a place that’s a little too small to hold all your friends, but a place where you cherish them anyway, right now, in the moment. Home can be anywhere, it can be what you make it, but there’s no place like it.
What are your thoughts about home?
From: Mary Bradley Marinkovich
At the end of your very wonderful essay you ask for our ideas on ‘home.’ Here are mine: Like words for mother, ‘home’ is very basic to humans and so is similar in other languages hjem, huis, heima… whether a house or a country…we are as deeply attached to the concept of home, as we are to the concept of mother. A place for us to be at rest and that so fits us–hand in glove–that when we are in it, we are perfectly at ease, perfectly ourselves. It is a compass point from which we orient our lives, from which leave, to which we return, and at times in which we sojourn–which is to say, stay for a while but not forever. Those without one long for one, are sick for one. If we are away from the compass point that for us is ‘home,’ we think, dream and yearn for it. Songs have been written…I’ll be Home for Christmas. And Home is hard-wired into us, as Neil Diamond wrote in his song ‘I Am:’
“Well I’m New York City-born-and-raised
I’m lost between two shores
L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home
New York’s home
But it ain’t mine no more”
Reminds me of an old saying; “a home just big enough for me is too small to live in”
Oh good one, Jim!
And thank you, Mary, for widening and deepening the subject.
Love that this group has been meeting at the pub for five years for conversation, and that it’s the laughter that keeps y’all coming back. The ocean is home to me. Also, the people I love are home. Thank you for being one of them.
Thank YOU, Anna. Glad you’re in my home world, too.
Love these comments! Thank you. I woke up happy this morning because we’d spent such a fine day yesterday with friends visiting from Alaska, (actually, I woke up laughing) but then the news, the dismal, endless litany of more senseless tragedy, and I said no, no, I will not be dragged into that abyss again today, and went into my studio determined to put some light instead of darkness into the world, even if it’s just a tiny pinpoint. I started by writing a comedy piece but something was telling me to write this instead, and out it came like a waterfall. It feels good to remember what makes life worth living, and sometimes to laugh so hard you can’t stop. And then to keep giggling about it afterward, as I do. That comedy piece will come out soon. I’ll keep you posted.
Laughter is a home, too.
A waterfall originating at the headwaters of the Sullivan River. Good one. xoCate
Thanks, Cate. Your friendship means a lot.
Thank you, Karen. This one hit all of the right notes for me this morning. I look forward to your words. Bests, Bob
Home is where my love of 45 years greets me whenever I arrive from a meeting or a dinner date with my buddies. It is the place where I can lose the bra and let it all hang out…much to the delight of my sweet hubby! And it is the place where my little dog greets me with glee, jumps, and twirls. A simple life for simple folks – I’m so glad “we have arrived.”
“A place to lose the bra” ought to be in the dictionary definition of home! And your sweetie and your dog greeting you, yes, that too.
I’ve never been attached to a house or a neighborhood or a town or any place at all. Oh sure, I’ve enjoyed all those, have nostalgia for many of them, and like to return to them and reminisce. But all my life I’ve had “ants in my pants” (label from childhood) and traditional notions of home leave me cold. I’m bored in my living room. I could be one of those people who sells everything and just wanders around the planet, visiting my family and all my friends and making new ones too. I love to travel and experience and want to see everything and go everywhere. That’s where the magic happens — people! I love to meet them, get to know them, experience their perspectives, understand them, and eat their food. I can make friends and feel connected quickly, and when that feeling is mutual I can maintain a relationship across the miles, for years. Is this my version of home? I dunno. I think so. When I am with the people I love, no matter where we are, I feel like I am home.