2:2 – Stories About “Home”

by VictoriaWoo

Write a short story (600 – 1000 words max) that describes your sense of home and the values and stories that you use to connect yourself to your home and respond to all comments on your blog.

Initial Thoughts

Last semester in English 222, I read Defining Place, an article written by human geographer Tim Cresswell. In attempting to answer the daunting question posed by this week’s assignment (what/where exactly is “home?”), I’ve found that this article in particular has resonated with me.

In it, Cresswell argues that three conditions must be met in order for place to become meaningful— namely, it must include a location, a locale, and a “sense” of place. While location simply refers to geographical whereabouts, locale refers to the material settings in which social relations are conducted. “Sense” of place, finally, refers to the subjective and emotional attachment people have to place.

While I’ve found Cresswell’s conditions inspiring, I have to wonder if they can also be applied in my task of defining “home.” Are “meaningful place” and “home” simply interchangeable terms, and if not, how exactly does one define “home?”

Perhaps telling stories about our homes can help us to pinpoint its elusive definition; without further ado, here are some of my personal stories about home.

My Sense of Home 

The house I grew up in was home because of its white and beige exterior trimmings, which inevitably began to weather after enduring 20 years of Canadian climate. It was home because of the five fruit trees my dad planted, which towered over the backyard grass, the flower gardens, and even the gigantic maple tree my childhood friend Ashley and I climbed (and fell out of) when we were six. It was home because of the distinct amalgamated smell of incense and my dad’s famous curry, an aroma that filled the nose of anyone and everyone who happened to drop by on a Sunday night. It was home because of a certain black cat named Salem, who, shedding her black fur, marked the carpets, much of the furniture, and many of my white clothes to my dismay. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the house I grew up in was home because it was constantly livened and warmed by people— those who lived in it, those who visited for just a few days, and even those who merely passed in and out.

But the dorm room I lived in during my first year at UBC was also home. It was home because of the white brick walls, which, covered in 4×6 glossy digital printouts, captured and displayed all of my favourite memories. It was nonetheless home because of the musky carpet, which had surely suffered countless spills and accidents from the previous students before me. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the dorm room I lived in during my first year at UBC was home because it shared a wall with my one of my dear childhood friends, Audrey, who lived next door on the right.

Across the world, China was also home. It was home because my grandmother’s house in Guangzhou contained an actual sit down toilet (to accommodate her Western family) as opposed to the “squatting” toilets normative in China. It was home because, despite strange looks I would get (people often thought I was adopted because I look more Caucasian), strangers were genuinely curious and willing to both accept and embrace my presence. Finally, China was home because I got to spend the most quality and priceless months with my favorite person— my dad.


my dad and I in Shanghai, circa 2004








Concluding Thoughts

Prior to beginning this assignment, I was inclined to believe that home was more feeling dependant than it was dependent on physical features of place (meaning that I favoured Cresswell’s notion of a sense of place over his notions of location and locale). But, upon telling the stories of my homes, I’ve realized that any place I’ve ever considered “home” has indeed had some physical feature(s) which invoked feelings of belonging and of emotional attachment. I’ve come to the conclusion that physical features of place inform our emotional attachments to place, and, collectively, contribute to feelings of “home.” This is conversely true as well; our emotions and subjective feelings, similarly, inform our attachment to physical features in place, and collectively, contribute to feelings of “home.”

With all that being said, I’m interested in whether you think that Cresswell’s three conditions of location, locale, and sense of place are adequate in defining “home.” Why or why not? Do you think “home” is more feeling dependent or dependent on physical features of place?

Works Cited

 Cresswell, Tim. “Place: A Short Introduction.” Blackwell Publishing (2004). 1-14. Web. 5 Jun. 2016.

Iyer, Pico. “Where is home?” Ted Conferences (2013). Web. 5 Jun. 2016.