“Home.” It is a word which meaning has evolved over a lifetime for me.

Moving frequently, first with a military family, then a military spouse, home was more a byword than a place for me, signaling, not roots or attachment, but a temporary perch.

Crisscrossing the country several times, moving up and down both coasts, I lived a wanderlust life.

Divorce and single parenthood put an end to the wandering. Settled in a small Maine town, I rented an apartment, then moved to a larger one. Roots sprouted, tenuously, like a cutting in a vase.

Roots, though, are not the same as being rooted; an apartment is not a house, after all. I wavered between ground and air, wistfully.

Priced out of the market, for several years I could only dream of a house of my own.

Then a second marriage and a slowdown in that market put the dream within reach. The day after a February snowstorm, we moved into a 65-year-old Cape. We didn’t buy for an investment, at least not the monetary kind.

We bought for possibilities, too numerous to count. Now we could plant a garden! Now we could get a dog!

We bought for neighbors, whose roots share the land, and intertwine with ours. I watch the children playing in their yards and the street and marvel that I may get to watch them grow up – I, who said goodbye to so many childhood friends, never knowing what their lives would be like.

I listen to the piping voice of the little girl next door, playing in her family’s yard, and it has become as sweet and familiar as a bird’s song.

We bought for the stars that move around our own little fixed point in the universe, newly intimate in their predictability. We look for Orion as snow falls, the Hunter with his faithful pair of Dogs who visits my son’s bedroom window like a favorite wandering relative, come to his own perch for a brief time.

Rooted, we find ourselves naming some of the rooms and various parts of our home, as once my children and I gave our Christmas trees names.

“I’m in Alice,” I call to my husband when he returns from work, my hands mucky with painting, my mind in its own little wonderland. We all pay our due visits to Mr. Granger, who is a relative to Burt, the slightly ominous hole in the basement that requires regular flushing.

We fill the oil tank and mend the fence. We mull over new roof estimates and debate the fate of our dilapidated garage.

It costs a lot of money, this home of ours. No matter how future housing prices play out, we may well never get a full monetary return for our investment and care.

But there are other, intangible returns, compounded daily.

Once only perching, now I’m landed, and know, at last, the ineffable sweetness of the sweetest of words: home. 

— Special to the Telegram