You can’t go home again

by statia on September 8, 2010

We went over to my parent’s house for Labor Day.   We usually go over to  my parent’s house for holidays.  Going to my parent’s house is exhausting.  Not from the standpoint of seeing them.  From the standpoint of packing up the kids, and all of their stuff, making the hour drive, and then playing parental tag team all day, until we have sensory overload, followed by meltdown.

I also hate going to their house, because my mother smokes in the house, and the smell gets to me.   I don’t begrudge her smoking in her own house.  They pay the bills.  I don’t understand it, but I know she really has no idea how bad it smells.    Because obviously, I grew up with the smell and I never noticed it until I moved out.  Now, I have to come home and strip everyone down, give the kids a bath, and throw everything we brought with us, in the wash.   I hate the idea of the kids breathing in all of that recycled second hand smoke that’s lingering in the air.  My mother never smokes in the house when the kids are around.  They’ve never once seen a cigarette, but it’s there, in the air.  25 years worth of smoke.  And it makes me paranoid.

And it makes me realized that the house that I grew up in, isn’t my house anymore.  I don’t feel at home there.  I’m merely a guest. Sleeping there is not comfortable for me.  Things that once were so familiar to me, now seem foreign.   I have my own home now, and while my house still doesn’t entirely feel like home to me, it’s familiar.  I look forward to getting back to it when we’re away.  It’s comfortable.

“You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone.”

I wonder if we all wander around feeling like this once we grow up and leave our childhood home.

{ 11 comments }

Faith September 8, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I had 3 homes I “grew up in”, really, so it’s hard to pin down that feeling to any one of them. But the one we go back to now, it’s not so bad. My brother and his wife stole my bed, so it’s not the same, anyway. It’s some other bed that my step mom bought to make sure there were enough beds to go around when we’re all in town at the same time.

I definitely look forward to getting back to my own home after being away for a while. It won’t be “home” forever, but for the time being, it truly is my happy place.

donna September 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Yeah, my parents move too much for me to feel like going to their house is going “home.” I think that bothers them, but I can’t help it. I don’t know where everything is, and I feel like a house guest.

Rougie September 8, 2010 at 6:49 pm

I don’t even have a room anymore. It’s now my nephew’s room. And he’s only there once a week for playdates. Like the 18+ years I logged there don’t count or anything…

Stimey September 8, 2010 at 10:28 pm

I moved to college at the same time my mother moved out of the country and sold the house we grew up in, so I’ve had to create home where I’ve been since then.

I was a smoker for a long time and it’s funny how you totally don’t notice how bad it makes you smell until you stop smoking or aren’t around it for a while.

Jonathan September 8, 2010 at 11:56 pm

I hadn’t really thought of it in terms of that quote previously, but my conclusion is yes. Kind of bothers me in a way.

Donna September 8, 2010 at 11:59 pm

I have no home to go to, my parents got divorced 15 years ago and it’s all very weird now when I go to Canada to visit. I’ve gone by my childhood home a few times and it’s very hard to put my memories in that place.

Katie September 9, 2010 at 12:42 am

My dad use to be a smoker, but quit a few years ago… When I moved out, I made sure my place was smoke-free. Wow, fresh air was lovely. And whenever I went to their house the smell of smoke was just disgusting.

But honestly, I’m unsure what “home” is anymore, either. We moved from Michigan, to Tennessee around the 7th grade. I never liked it, more like I hated it. To many bad things happened, to many bad memories.

I’m almost 30 now… and even know I have my own room at my parents when I visit, and I know where most everything is… It really doesn’t feel like home to me, I don’t even think it feels like home to my own mother. Which seems awfully strange. Hopefully, one day I’ll get out of the apartment runt and find home. :)

Reagan September 9, 2010 at 8:31 am

You know, I completely understand the smoke smell (as you well know – i smoked for many years and my mom still smokes) but thankfully my mother has finally started smoking outside, so when we go visit, the smell isn’t there too much. But, she’ll still smoke right in front of our son, outside. Like being outside makes it ok? I don’t quite get that, but hey, what do I know, right? I only grew up with it and then started smoking myself. Oh wait…
Quite honestly, I’ve never felt like I’ve had a “home” until the house we have now. Moving so many times over the years and my parents moving at least 5 times since I moved out of their house made sure that I’ve never really KNOWN a home. The only home I could ever count on being the same was my grandmothers and that burned down 10 or so years ago.
And I agree – getting everything together to go to the grandparents house, to stay for two or three days, and then drive home, is utterly exhausting! You have to basically pack everything you own (especially for the kid) and then cram yourselves into a car for a “vacation” that you are going to need a vacation from ;)

jenG September 10, 2010 at 11:20 am

See, I was totally ready to use my kids as extortion to get my mom to quit. Sure, it was her right to smoke in and around her house. It’s also my right to say, “Sorry, that’s dangerous for my kids. Quit, or they won’t play at your house.” I know–I’m a bitch. I have friends who did this with borderline hoarder parents, too, though, until they cleared out the house. Unsafe is unsafe.

Thanks to lung cancer, I’ll never have to have that fight. I worried about it a lot, too. Ironic that it solved itself. They’ll still never meet her…all because of smoking.

If home is the house I grew up in, I sold home last year as part of Mom’s estate. I’ve made my home elsewhere for 15 years–”home” hasn’t felt like home since then. Home for me is where my people are. With Mom gone, I get to decide where my home will be from now on, without being torn between where I want to be and where I’m expected.

Mixed blessings.

statia September 10, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I’m so sorry Jen. It’s a shitty way for the situation to solve itself.

I’ve come to realize, that home is wherever you are at the time.

jenG September 13, 2010 at 8:09 am

Aw, thanks, Statia. I realized after the fact that it came out a little more harshly than it needed to. The funny thing is, I don’t even give people a hard time about smoking. Usually.

Home. It’s what’s for dinner.

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