One of my favorite things in the whole world is coming home. For all the reasons that you probably love putting your own set of keys in the lock, seeing a light on and knowing someone will be glad to hear you come in. (Especially the dog, because he'll be ecstatic) Even walking into a quiet house brings its own special kind of peace as you go from "out there" to "in here."
The why and the how of this has to be some jumbled combination of place, feelings, memories, stuff, people, sounds, smells...everything that makes home, home. A million little things, and a few big ones, coming together into an elaborate ecosystem all around you.
Here is an example of a little part of my system.
I have a cool clock in my kitchen. I found it in a funky housewares shop when we were on a family trip, and I've never seen anything else like it. It's unusual enough that almost everyone makes some kind of comment, tries to figure out how it works, smiles when they see it. Several months ago, it stopped working. And then one day, it was gone. I was unaccountably sad. It was just a clock, but I really missed it. It was hard to let it go.
A few weeks ago, I walked into the kitchen and the clock was back. Blinking cheerfully. Again, the surge of emotion (joy this time) was completely out of proportion to the specifics of the situation. But it was a clear reaction to that tiny hole in the system being unexpectedly fixed.
Here is an example of a big part.
I have a wonderful woman in my life. She has cared for my children, my home, and me for many years. She is kind and wise, and I've never met anyone else like her. She has a family of her own: children, grandchildren, and a husband she has been married to for 43 years. About a year ago he had a stroke. And then a few months ago, he was diagnosed with leukemia. The prognosis was very bad, but he recovered enough to come home, walk around the neighborhood, play with his grandchildren, enjoy some warm meals with his wife.
And fix the clock for me.
He died on Sunday morning. This time, I absolutely know why I am so sad. There's a hole here that will never be filled.