Yes, I realize the fortress of solitude in the post title doesn’t go with the hobbit house photo, but I liked it, so there you have it. Anyway…
Home has had various meanings for me over the course of my life, and I think it’s probably more important now than it’s ever been.
I grew up in a small town and lived in the same house from birth until high school graduation. I started university right away after high school, and over the next five years, I lived in student residences during the school year and then moved back home during the summer. With all of that moving, home was less about a particular place and more about wherever I happened to be as long as I was with the people that mattered to me.
At some point during that time, I started travelling, and established a pattern of yearly backpacking trips. Home became whatever hostel I happened to be staying at for the night. If I started to feel homesick for Western food and toilets, McDonald’s would serve as my temporary home.
After I finished my first degree, I spent a couple of years living in a basement suite with a friend while I went to nursing school, then did a brief stint in a one-bedroom apartment before moving to the condo I’m in now. I’ve been here since 2005.
A lot has happened here. I’ve had two live-in boyfriends and many guinea pigs. I lived here when depression first hit. Paramedics and police officers have come knocking on my door. My paint job and various other fix-it projects are completely useless, because I have zero skill at that kind of thing yet I’m too cheap to pay someone else to do it. But it makes my home feel even more quirkily mine.
Home, specifically this home, has become important because I feel rooted here. Most of the time I’m holding myself together by a slender thread, so having a safe space makes a big difference. It’s my space where no one cares if there are Corn Flakes scattered all over the kitchen and the guinea pigs’ hay, with a little bit of poop tossed in, is all over the floor.
I don’t get lonely in this space, and that’s at least in part because I don’t want anyone in this space. It’s my fortress of solitude (not that I know much of anything about Superman; I only know the reference from Seinfeld). It’s just me and the guinea pigs. The rest of the mostly unpleasant world is kept at a distance. Granted, I’ve always been very introverted, but the need for a safe space is relatively new over the last few years.
My home also feels safe because it’s paid for. One of my fears lurking in the background is of being unable to support myself, and it’s very reassuring that I’m no longer paying a mortgage. I live in an expensive city and I could end up with a decent amount of money in the bank if I were to sell and move out to the boondocks, but the thought of moving terrifies me. It was something I’d thought about three years ago when I was unemployed for an extended period of time, but I have a hard time even imagining giving up my safe zone.
So, I’ve gone from being a girl who was at home wherever her backpack was to being someone who relies on the stability and grounding of home in order to get by with basic day to day functioning. It’s not that venturing outside the house makes me anxious; my fortress of solitude just seems to be the only environment that doesn’t steadily drain my mental energy.
Is home important for your wellbeing?