Home means different things at different stages in your life. When growing up, it was simply where I lived with my parents and my brother in Donaghadee. It was a place where I felt cared for and loved and where my parents made sure there was food on the table, coal for the fire and clean clothes for each day.
That feeling of comfort and safety persists even though I have moved home several times over the years. And the feelings of family and belonging are also critical when I think of what home means to me. Home is where I am renewed and refreshed with those I love; it is where the troubles of the day can be at first shared and then set aside. Home is where comfort is derived from the familiar. Simple things like the soft creak of the floorboard at 3AM in the morning that signals the safe arrival home of a grown up son, or the sound of rain lashing the windows as you draw the duvet up to your chin, or the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.
But home is more than bricks and mortar. It is part of something bigger – the wider community of neighbours, friends and acquaintances. The common sights, sounds and smells that trigger memories, often long forgotten, that remind of landmarks in your life such as the birth of a child or a particular anniversary. You recognise these things particularly when arriving back having been away on holiday or a business trip; you know you are home because it feels right and because you missed those familiar things and the memories they trigger. No matter what new sights you have seen or new experiences enjoyed, arriving back home is always comforting.
In three words, for me home is about safety, comfort and family.