Where is Home for a Vandweller?
For over 40 years I called Anchorage, Alaska home. My family moved there in 1961 and I lived there until 2006 when I retired and left. My definition of myself was as an “Alaskan.” So that must be home, right? But I haven’t been back since, and have lived in literally hundreds of places since then. So how can I be going home?
Sometimes you hear vandwellers say, “Home is where the wheels are!” And that seems like a pretty good definition of home. But what if you sleep in a different place every night? If that is true, then I have had as many as 20 homes in a single month when I was traveling extensively. Was each of them my home?
Maybe it depends on how long you live in one place? For example, in the last 4 summers I worked as a campground host and spent the entire summer in a campground site. So was that my home for 5 months? On weekends I would drive my truck camper into town and spend the night there, but I don’t think it became my home because when I was done in town I would turn to my dog and say, “Let’s go home.” My weekend camp in town wasn’t home, because it didn’t feel like home. Every week when I got back to my camp ground, there was a deep knowing of it as home.
No, for me, home is not where the wheels are, in fact it isn’t even a place, it’s a feeling. Above everything else it is a connection to a location. I can’t easily define what that connection is; maybe it is a sense of “love” for a place. Or maybe it is simply a familiarity caused by spending so much time there. The best way I can describe it is the old saying “Home is where the heart is.” It is a place you thrive in when you are there, and miss and long to return to when you are not. It is a place you are bonded to.
How many homes can we have? I believe the number is unlimited. I’ve come to feel sorry for people who don’t travel, and only have one home. If home is where the heart is, the more homes you have, the bigger your heart becomes. It expands with each new experience and each new connection. Your heart becomes fuller and richer.
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” ~ Miriam Beard
Soon I will land in Anchorage and be home to the place I know better and feel more connected to than any other. But in two weeks I will get on another plane and fly back to the Sierra Mountains, which is also my home and the place I have spent the second most time in my life. I am a better, happier person for the effect they each have had on me. I’m already looking forward to all the new homes I will find in the coming years. Maybe one day we will share a new home together. Bob