Not only does Melissa have a lot going on now and in the next few weeks, but she's in transition. Moving, that is. Nothing wrong with cliches when they help put things into perspective - "Home is where the heart is" might seem kitschy but there's just so much truth to it on so many levels, including finding a sense of belonging. I love Melissa's distinctions of what Home and Place personally mean, and I especially got a kick out of her digression that led her to write this sweet piece. Enjoy!
Home is . . . All Over the Place.
Home is . . . All Over the Place.
I had to take a break to write this. I'm currently cleaning like a mad woman. My lease at my current apartment ends August 31. I'm going to Florida in a week. So this weekend was the only weekend I had to clean before I have to be out of here. Can I vent for a minute? I'm going to go completely off topic, but anyone that has ever had to move before will feel my pain. Remember that last time you had to move, and you had to clean? And you were cleaning that one spot you've NEVER cleaned before - for example, under the range hood. Who thinks to clean that on a regular basis? (I swear if you say, "I do. Doesn't everyone?" I'll pinch you.) And remember the last time you had to clean it, you swore that in the next place, you'd clean it regularly? But you never did. And now you're in that same boat. Awkwardly twisted upside down, getting soapy water in your eye, arms hurting, cursing yourself for every time you fried any delicious, fatty food and the grease splattered up under that stupid hood and you never wiped it up. I broke four nails, chipped all my fingernail polish, and scratched up two fingers. I'm tired. I hate the moving process.
Back to the topic at hand, my HOME is relocating. I say HOME because this is MY HOME. My little apartment. My rent. My bills. My furniture. All stuff that I paid for. It's mine, mine, mine, Mine, MINE! But, (forgive the cliche) I truly believe that home is where the heart is. It's wherever you love to be. Where ever you feel welcome and are free to just be yourself.
We can really separate dwellings into three categories: HOME, Like Home, and Places.
HOME is where you dwell. It's where your stuff is. In the business world, it's the main headquarters. I have one HOME.
"Like HOME" is the dwelling where you go that isn't yours per se, but you're welcome there and you feel comfortable there. In the business world, it's like a franchise store. Questions to determine if this dwelling is Like Home: Can you walk in, kick your shoes off, put your feet up, and ask when dinner will be ready? Have you left any of your personal items (toothbrush, clothing, etc) there? If yes, then it's Like HOME.
A Place is all other dwellings. In the business world, I call it the competition. If HOME is McDonalds, then a Place is Burger King. You don't mind going there. It's a change of scenery. But those manners your parents taught you are in full effect. You keep your legs crossed, you excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, you politely turn down snacks so that you don't impose upon the host. It's like going to a friend of a friend's house. It's your distant aunt's house. You know you're welcome there, but you know you can't stay. There are plenty of Places in my life.
I've moved around a few times in my life. I was born in Milwaukee, moved to Madison in the 7th grade, moved back to Milwaukee in the 11th grade, moved to Sheboygan for college, then moved back to Madison after graduation. For a little while when I was younger, my mother lived in Madison completing school while my sister and I stayed in Milwaukee. So, HOME has been all over. Although my HOME is in Madison, Milwaukee is Like Home. It always will be.
It was a little difficult to adjust to HOME in Madison when I first moved here. Imagine how shocking it was to move from my all Black neighborhood and school in Milwaukee, to being one of maybe 10 minorities in my whole school in Madison. My sister and I would play a game called 'Count the Black People' as we walked around State Street downtown. It would usually take us a while to get to the double digits, which is pretty amazing since we were near the UW-Madison campus. Back then it felt like minorities didn't want to make Madison their HOME. At first, I would feel more at ease when we'd go visit Milwaukee. My Like HOME felt more comfortable than my HOME. My attitude eventually changed though, once I made friends and felt more accepted. Then when we had to move back to Milwaukee during my junior year of high school, I would always want to come back to Madison to visit my friends. I missed my HOME in Madison a lot. So much so, that I decided to make Madison my HOME after graduating from college.
I feel like things are changing around my city. Madison is more colorful now than it was back when I was a kid. My job is so diverse. My coworkers and the students I help at the technical college I work for come from every background imaginable. I think it's the first place I've worked since living in Madison where I wasn't the token Black employee. My neighborhood is diverse, too. My daughter has a United Nations of friends that she plays with in our apartment complex. I hope that it's similar in our new HOME.
I've been so lucky to always be around people that have made me feel at Like HOME, even when HOME was in transition. That's why I have so many places I feel comfortable. It's why, even though HOME is so important to me because it's my little sanctuary, Like HOME is just as comfortable. Home is where the heart is. My heart is here and all over the place.
Melissa received her bachelors degree in psychology (and Jada) from Lakeland College. She earned a masters degree in psychology from Walden University. She is currently working in the Employment Center at Madison College, and before that position, she worked for the state of Wisconsin. But even before that, she was the ever-so-loving nanny to Misa and John-Pio when they were babies. She enjoys journaling, wacky dancing with Jada, practicing yoga, and urban line dancing.