Home Is…

I have worked six days straight and frankly I have no idea what to write about tonight. I should have written this yesterday but I was tired and got busy and by the time I thought “Hey, maybe I should be proactive and write my blog!” it was late and I went to bed instead…

As I’m sitting here in front of my 39″ monitor (I’ll get to that in a minute) I happened to glance over and see Tula, my newest furever dog, snugged up in a new dog bed on the floor near me. She is staring at me, waiting to see if I’m going to stay in my seat or get up and go do something, and guarding the door so I can’t leave without her if I do get up. My grand-daughter is in the bath. She is singing as my daughter washes and conditions her hair. The sweet smell of a cake baking in the oven fills the house and I realize that I am glad to be home.

There are things we don’t appreciate enough in life, and having a home is one of them. Unless you have been homeless, having a roof over your head is something we all just take for granted. Its like having food on the table and lights on in the house–it’s just something we have always had and have never gone without.

Not so for me. I have been homeless and its a terrible, sick feeling to see night approaching and realize you have nowhere to go that is safe and warm and comfortable. I spent many nights sleeping in my VW Bug when I was about 19 years old. My father and I never got along and as I got older I became more stubborn and rebellious. There were a lot of reasons for my behavior, but suffice it to say that he told me that if I ever left that I could never come back. Things came to a head one day over my lack of a job and after screaming at each other I slammed out of the house, jumped in my car, and drove off. I came back and grabbed some of my clothes and my rabbit, Boomer, and spent the night down by the river. I never went home again.  For several weeks I slept in my car in my church’s parking lot. I took spit baths in the sinks at the local park and one of the janitors at the church took pity on my and gave me a garbage bag full of leftover popcorn from some youth activity. I lived on popcorn and water and was grateful for both. I drove to Santa Barbara and spent a few days with friends while I tried to get my head together. I finally headed back to Modesto and began pounding the pavement looking for a job.

Finding a job when you have no way for a prospective employer to contact you is not easy. I gave out my aunt’s phone number and would call her every day to see if anyone had called with a job offer. I finally got a job working as a housekeeper in a local hospital. At the same time I ran into an old friend at a local festival and when she found out what was going on she offered me her couch. I stayed with her and her husband and then went to stay with her parents. The job didn’t last long and I was terrified of being out on the streets again. I took a job with a traveling sales company, packed my few belongings, and left California behind.

This was many, many years ago. I have traveled a lot of miles and lived in a few places, only to end up back here not ten miles from where I grew up. My dad and I never made up but fell into a somewhat less-than-hostile truce and it remained that way until his death a couple of years ago.

In my job as a bus driver, I see people from all walks of life. The ones that use our bus system are often on the poorer end of the living scale. Many are homeless and take advantage of the shelters scattered around town. Some choose to live near the river where they are free to indulge in life styles that are neither healthy or safe. Many sleep in doorways and under bushes in the park during the day since it is safer to sleep in the daylight when people can see them than in the dark. That is when they walk the streets, going through garbage bins and dumpsters, searching for recyclables and other things they can sell for money. They don’t go hungry–there are several organizations in town that go out to the various parks and street corners every day with sandwiches and water for them or they can go to the Salvation Army or the Gospel Mission and have free food as long as they are willing to listen to a sermon or two. They just don’t have anywhere that they can call “home” and that is a hard thing to live with every day.

I normally don’t work late but today I worked bell to bell. My last route of the day was through a very poor section of town where the hookers and meth heads hang out. I saw one woman walking down the street tonight crying. I don’t know why she was crying but  the look of distress on her face just brought back all those memories of insecurity and fear and hopelessness I felt myself all those years ago. And my heart broke just a little…

So tonight when I pulled into my driveway and saw my husband standing out side with the garage door open, I wasn’t annoyed at how cluttered the garage was. I didn’t get irritated when i was greeted at the door by several dogs and one beaming grand child. I didn’t get mad that the sink was still full of dishes from the day before or that apparently nothing had been done here all day while I was gone. Because no matter how chaotic or stressful or crazy or crowded my house is, it’s still home. No matter what happens I have a place to come home to that is mine. It’s why I work all the hours that I do. It’s what keeps me going when I think I just want to chuck it all and move into a hut on the beach. Because I never want my children to go through what I did I can never close my door on any of them, no matter how disappointed I may be in them or how far they stray from what I see is the right path for them to follow. They will always have a place to come home to because home is where they feel safe and loved and wanted. Not only my biological children but the children of my heart as well.

I do the same thing for the dogs I rescue. I want them to never feel afraid or cold or hungry again. Therefore I open my heart and my home to them and give them a place to be until I can find their forever homes. I rescued another one the other night (I know I know!!). This one was wandering near our house and I turned back around to drive by him again to make sure he was alone. He tried to bite me when I reached out to pet him, so I asked one of the neighbors for a leash and spent a good fifteen minutes petting his belly and talking to him before I could slip the leash around his neck. My daughter brought her car down for me to take him home in since I had Jackie and Tula with me and I couldn’t put him in the car with them. He i s now ensconced in a kennel in the garage and I have put out a call for someone else to foster him. Not sure why, but fluffy dogs always bite me! He has calmed down and is wagging his tail and happy now but he still cowers if you put your hand near his head and it breaks my heart to think that someone mistreated this sweet little boy. So yes, apparently The Menagerie has room for just one more–temporarily.

So what makes home “home” for you? Is home a place, a person, or just a feeling you get? Do you feel at home if you take a few things with you when you travel that are special  or do you have to be in your own bed at night to feel that same sense of peace? I feel at home at the ranch as well as at my own house. Both places speak to me and I am content to be at either as long as I have at least one or two of my dogs with me. So for me my dogs make me feel “at home”. What does it for you? Share…

 

PS: The 39″ monitor is the TV I won at work for being a great driver and having my name drawn for the semi-annual give-away! I needed a new monitor and so my son hooked it up to the computer and we can now watch NetFlix in style and my husband never has to find his reading glasses to search for things on the computer any more! Next purchase will be a wireless keyboard and mouse,however–this thing is CRAZY big!!  🙂