Another Meditation on Home

Ram Dass, the famous American guru, famously claimed, “We’re all just walking each other home.” He died last December at the age of eighty-eight. So I’m wondering today: Is he home now? Is that when we’ll feel most at home, when we join him wherever his spirit is?

Home seems to be a subject I’ve been obsessed with, especially in recent years, since I emigrated to Mexico. Of the more than three hundred WOW posts I’ve published since 2014 when I began writing this weekly blog on all sorts of subjects relevant to older women, at least twenty of my short Views (point-of-view personal essays) have attempted to approach the big embracing topic of Home, each from a slightly different angle.

But I still long to know: Where is Home? And what is it? Is it a physical place or a state of mind? Is it something we take for granted until we don’t have it any longer – like clean air or drinkable water? Is it just a leak-proof roof over our heads? Or something immutable we carry around inside of us, deep in our hearts?

Maya Angelou wrote, “I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” I confess, I’ve been longing for this a lot lately.

When news of the COVID-19 pandemic struck San Miguel de Allende in force last March, most of the snowbirds and tourists flew home to their respective homelands – mainly the U.S. and Canada – on the first available plane.

For many expats with second homes in San Miguel, their “real” home is where their families live, where their deeper, older roots are. San Miguel is like a playground for them, their happy place; their hearths lie elsewhere. So they also packed and left suddenly last March.

“Home,” Robert Frost said, “is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” For me, and for many of my fellow retired single older women friends, that place is now San Miguel. We’ve found that we can live good, healthy, independent, purposeful, and affordable lives here in Mexico. We simply can’t afford to live in the United States at this stage of our lives, with the cost of living so high there and our Social Security checks and savings so meager. So we’re immensely grateful that Mexico has taken us in.

And during this pandemic lockdown, we’ve mostly been staying in. Except for weekly quick forays to the grocery store and brisk solo daily walks around our nearest parks — wearing masks and socially distancing, of course — we, along with the vast majority of others here in SMA have been abiding by the rules. To date, there have been a total of six deaths from COVID-19 in San Miguel – all men, between the ages of thirty and seventy-five. If, as V.S. Naipaul said, home is “a place to feel safe,” we feel safe here and at home.

Yes, we’ve tried to make homes for ourselves in our small, affordable apartments. My friend Helaine, for instance, a retired psychotherapist from Santa Fe, New Mexico, tells me she loves her little apartment in San Miguel far more than she ever loved her house in Santa Fe. “This is home for me,” she told me recently when we were discussing the subject.

The cozy reading nook in the living room area of Helaine’s one-bedroom apartment in SMA

I felt similarly about the funky little old “penthouse” apartment on the other side of town that I had to move from last month because the apartment complex will soon be sold and likely torn down. I especially loved my tiny, quiet, private patio filled with potted flowering plants, and the dramatic, Technicolor sunsets I enjoyed from my lofty western view:

My new studio apartment, on the other hand, as nice as it is, has yet to feel like home to me. It’s more like a beautiful, fully furnished, fully decorated, and fully equipped vacation rental, where I’m staying on a short Mexican holiday, all the while wondering when I’ll need to pack for home.

To remedy this, I’ve been gradually taking down artwork that’s not my taste and replacing it with wall quilts I made when I lived and taught patchwork quilting in Mali, West Africa. These simple, sentimental, demo quilts, made with African fabric, spell HOME to me.

One of my Mali wall quilts in the new studio

This lingering, gnawing yearning for home has made me think and care about, as never before, the truly homeless – desperate people sleeping on the streets of New York and Los Angeles, for example, caged migrant children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border, refugees in dozens of overcrowded camps scattered around the world. As of last January, an estimated 1.6 billion people – or 20 percent of the world’s population – lack adequate housing. One point six billion people yearning for Home.

“This world is not my home,” the old, revivalist hymn goes, “I’m just a-passin’ through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue…” If only Ram Dass could confirm this for us now! Sojourner Truth was sure of it. “I’m not going to die,” she said. “I’m going home like a shooting star.”

28 thoughts on “Another Meditation on Home”

  1. Beautifully written, la Bonnie, as usual! I am sure you will make this new place your casa, your hogar.
    I am getting to like Hobbs, but for me, Taos is still the place I would like to call “home” again.

    1. Muchísimo gracias, querida Te! Thank you for sharing your “home” sentiments. Yes, I suppose it will take time to adjust to this new place. It’s only been six weeks. I was in what I affectionately call my “penthouse” for more than four years. — Abrazos virtuales, BB xx

  2. I’m with Ram Das and the revivalist spiritual. We are all just passing through. I wonder more about why we came? Maybe just to walk with those other 1.6 billion people who are also from our home, where/whatever that is. Walking each other home.

  3. I don’t resonate with Robert Frost’s comment that home is where they have to take you in. That is exactly where I never want to be. I want to be taken in, not because they have to. But by the people, the land, the house, those I like, if not love. Home is where I take myself – because it just feels like home.

  4. I love this Bonnie. I have had questions so much like your own, although my circumstances are different. I seem compelled to make the whole world my home. But then of course, the Bay Area is where they “have to take me in” and this is the hearth of my whole world home. Big hugs.

    1. Thanks so much, querida Kim. Yes, we all come at this big topic from different directions, depending, I guess, on our early childhood and later life experiences. Big hugs back to you! — xx

  5. Just writing to say how much I love your posts, Bonnie. I’m “home” in Pittsburgh, which is my full-time home, and where I’ve always had one foot out the door. Grateful for all I have and have always had here, man, dog, perennial garden, for the 700 acre woodland park and the food coop, just steps away… Stay health and safe.

    1. Thrilled to hear from you, dear Jane, and to know that you’re doing so well at home in Pittsburgh! Sending you special love from wet and soggy SMA, BB xx

  6. Very thought-provoking, Bonnie. As we all have been (or still are) enduring some form of quarantine, the subject of home and what it means and feels like has become even more relevant. Thanks for bringing our attentions to this subject.

  7. Very poignant, thank you. Our situations are deeply complex, just to exist in this part of the world. Yet somehow we continue, and sometimes we thrive. This is not our year to thrive. This is our year to gain our inner strength, like squirrels before winter. And, we know how beautiful winter is in San Miguel de Allende.

  8. Hi Bonnie. This is Kimberly, Holly’s oldest child… I just want you to know how much I enjoy your blog and the messages you share. I just sold my home and I am moving to another. My current one is beautiful, but I believe it has a similar feel to your curreny place. Very nice, but maybe it lacks soul. My new place will need years of work, love, time and money, but I felt “home” the minute I set foot in it.

    I look forwad to your future blogs. Stay well. Maybe someday we will meet.



    1. Thank you so much for writing, dear Kimberly. I cherish this connection. Yes, wouldn’t it be wonderful to meet one day. Perhaps you can visit SMA when the pandemic has passed? Best wishes to you in your new home, and love to you and Holly and your whole family.

  9. Another wonderful post. This one touched a chord with me. Home has eluded me. Ever since I left Saskatchewan, I’ve wondered why I can’t seem to make this province home. I’ve lived in my present circumstances for 30 years. I came to work, got married here but nearly every day I think about Saskatchewan with a yearning. It’s amazing how connected to “place” a person can be.

  10. A good read. I believe “home” is where we came from and where we will return after we “pass-on.” It’s our base from which to grow and experience all that the Universe has to offer us. Perhaps we’re all energy ebbing and flowing back and forth like all energy does, from point A to B and back again; and then from point A to point C and back again, over and over until we decide not to be reborn in a physical body? Perhaps our energies have decided to step into a fascinating simulation game called “Life on Planet Earth” where we build points with our good deeds and loose points with our bad and the rules are hidden within our consciences and the world’s religions? All I’m sure of is that the game never ends because energy can never be destroyed. We just ‘move on’.

  11. Dear Bon,

    Home is wherever each of us believes it to be. It sounds simplistic, but I believe it to be the truth. I actually don’t think it is as simplistic as it sounds, and your thoughtful blog seems to prove how layered a decision it can be.


    1. Thank you, Paul dear. Yes, it’s layered and both simple and complicated. Yesterday I had something of an epiphany: “Home is where we feel loved.” Hmmm…another layer to think about!

  12. So funny, Bonnie, that I had JUST asked you how you were liking your new casa, and you were probably hitting the publish button on this blog. That’s an answer to my question, and I get it. But I’m glad you’re taking down the vacation rental art and hanging up your own that feels like home. xoxo

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