Sunday, March 20, 2011


       “Home is any place I hang my hat”. These thought-provoking lyrics were heard by Dave and me at a recent cabaret performance in Wilmington, NC, while we are staying with our daughter, before departure to Armenia with the Peace Corps. The song sounded like a true Peace Corps description of home, especially for volunteers who move from one country to another and establish homes in new towns and villages all over the world.
         Dave and I had recently talked about where home was for us and where home might be after the Peace Corp, both the physical place and the emotional feel of home. We agreed that the meaning of home differs dramatically based upon a person’s particular life experiences and emotional make-up. Dave says that the more places you feel at home, the more connected you are with the world, or the more comfortable you are with yourself. As I write this blog, we are driving from one of our former homes to 2 others (from Wilmington, NC/Kure Beach to Memphis and Clarksville, TN). On varying levels, we each identify these places as homes where one or both of us lived previously. But could we go back? It’s been said that “home is where the heart is.” Would our hearts immediately be back in these homes, or would our heads come into play and become stronger influences than our emotions? Is it possible to have 2 or more homes at once or must home be a singular entity? What do you think?

          “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is a familiar seasonal song conjuring up both sentimental thoughts and early travel plans. In a column written in the Church Health Reader by Dr.G. Scott Morris, MD, founder and medical director of the Church Health Center in Memphis, TN, he mentions going home for holidays, sometimes to a dysfunctional family, and due to family tradition or a sense of responsibility. Although there is merit to maintaining ties to family, the feel of those home comings is not always warm and fuzzy even when greeted by hugs and kisses. The trip home is not always comfortable for a variety of reasons.
When we visit my elderly father, he always says, “this is your home so do whatever you want to.” (I’ve actually said the same thing when our adult children visit us!) I understand my father’s feelings because he has lived in the same house for over fifty five years and in the same town even longer. He has traveled very little aside from going to the Pacific theater during WW II. The house Dave and I visit is truly my father’s home; it is no longer mine, yet I do have memories of it being home as I grew up.

        Dr. Morris suggests that one’s church home can be a place where a person feels they’ve made a place for themselves that is right. I think it is a home where unconditional love and a sense of peace is felt, no matter who you are. Can a person move to a new physical home in the world and feel at home in a church there? Maybe it is possible, if the concept of church home is based on the idea of a religious community and not tied to a particular building or place. Dave and I had a church home in Memphis since the late 60’s and we just recently visited it. We felt an overwhelming connection to the people we had known and not seen for several years. We knew we had made a place for ourselves in previous years of membership and we truly felt welcomed and loved when we returned. We have not found a church home like this one since. Dr. Morris’s wife, Mary, says that by connecting to those we love and who we want to spend time with, we can create our own sense of home. Maybe Dave and I need to work harder on making those connections in a new church in the future.

        As Peace Corps volunteers, we already felt at home in Niger after being there only 3 months prior to our evacuation. Acceptance and respect were there. Our Nigerien villagers were protective and caring towards us, and yes, we felt a sense of peace at the end of a hot day as we lay down under the brilliant star-covered sky. In Africa we slept outside without fear; we were half the way around the world, and we felt at home. During dinner with long term friends recently, one of them asked us about our current nomadic life and how it felt to not have what he considered to be a “home”. Dave said it did not bother him; I said I missed that feeling.

         Over the years, we have felt at home wherever we have lived and now eagerly await June 1 when we begin the search for a home anew, in Armenia. Since we sold our physical properties before moving to North Carolina, then rented there, we joke of being homeless or living the life of nomads. Our Peace Corps home of record (HOR) is in Las Vegas with our son. Our mailing address is a PO Box in Kure Beach, NC, and we are staying with various family members and friends in THEIR homes in the meantime. Our friends and family wonder about us and say they have difficulty keeping up with our whereabouts. Thank goodness for internet and cell phones, Skype, text messaging and Facebook! We hope to soon “hang our hat” in our new home in Armenia for at least twenty seven months. The US will always be our global home, but “where our hearts lie” will vary from our childhood homes to the many we’ve shared over the years as adults. Home is truly where you make it, where you feel comfortable and where peace and contentment prevail. It can change, but will always be inside of you. You’ll know when you are home. It will be a home and not just a place to stay. For us it will be where we both “hang our hats”.

              As you read this blog, are you at home?
Judy and Dave

Reference: to read more of Dr. G. Scott Morris’ columns


  1. A very deep question, but I think you've found the answer--people, friends are the real home...keep the old, add the new and your home just gets more rooms (this comes from having moved a lot and traveled even more)...wishing you all the best in Armenia!

  2. Judy and Dave—my sister forwarded the article to me, as I will be joining you in Armenia as a fellow A-19. At age 61, I'm retiring from my university music teaching position next month and eagerly anticipating the next 27 months' experience. Meanwhile, many thanks for some fascinating perspectives—looking forward to meeting you in Philadelphia.