I woke up in a palace in Rome with my mum and now I’m home outside the walls of Florence and inside the ones of my home. In Italian, the word “home” is casa. Sono a casa. I’m home. It doesn’t mean the same thing though, because the word for house is the same. Casa. Italians can only be a casa. There isn’t that intense connection to that word that we’ve created that means something else. I grew up in a society that really implemented that there was a difference between those two words. They sold it – on little wooden or metal signs that hung by the porch door or above the kitchen cabinets: “Home is where the heart is,” “A house is made of walls and beams, a home is made of love and dreams,” It’s not how big the house is, it’s how happy the home is, ” “ET phone home” (I’m sorry, I had to) and my personal favorite, “It’s not a home without a dog.”
Everyone is always trying to feel at home and place home or go back home or run toward home. I told my mum to text me when she got home today as she got on the plane to Boston, and then called Rami and said I was getting on the train to come home. If you ask me where is my house, that’s right here in Florence. If you ask me home – I still need you to be more specific. My home where I grew up, is Haverhill, I guess, but it was so much more than that. It was New Hampshire mountains and lakes in Maine and the coast. New England fits better, even though that is pretty wide.
It seems that everyone is always supposed to define the word “home” – whether it trying to make a house homier or make the association with that feeling of “home” anywhere you want it to be.
I think I like the Italian version better – there just really isn’t an emphasis on emotional attachment to a house. Now, you want to talk neighborhoods in Italy, or regions, their love is thick and fierce, but the language is so different – there are so many other words to explain their passions of where they’re from. Home just doesn’t translate.
I use home just as I used to – just more often and referencing more places, which would further confuse Italians. I love that my home across the ocean is where maple trees burn red and orange in the autumn and the snow is waist deep in the winter. I love that my home travels the world in the hearts of my friends – a place to go with a text message or a flight, and instantly I have that feeling. I love that even after traveling to the most beautiful places of this country, the minute I stepped foot in Tuscany again I felt like I was home. I am home. See why this is confusing?
Tonight I get to sleep in my own bed (although last night’s bed was probably the most comfortable I’ve ever slept on in my entire life – but it isn’t “home”) and wake up at home – because there’s just no place like home.