“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
What a great superpower that would be–the ability to click our heels together three times and instantly be transported to the place we call home. For the majority of people, a specific location or picture comes to mind when they hear the word “home.” Maybe it’s the house where they grew up or the city or town where they were raised. Maybe it’s the address where they currently abide. Home can mean a million different things to a million different people. The family nucleus certainly doesn’t look the same or operate the same for everyone. In 2017, the traditional image is more common in the movies than in real life. And that’s not bad. We don’t all have to fit into the same formula, and we definitely don’t all have to come from the same kind of homes.
When I first started mulling over a blog post about home, it was the holiday season. I was fresh off a long Thanksgiving weekend with my brother’s family, and I was full of anticipation for Christmas when our whole crew would gather in one place to celebrate, cook, bake, eat (a lot!), share our gifts, watch movies, and relax together. Since I was born, I’ve never missed Christmas with my Mom, and only once have my brother Matthew and I been apart on December 25th. That holiday is precious to me because of them, even though we very rarely gather in the same place in back to back winters. We rotate from one house and one state to the next.
“Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays ’cause no matter how far away you roam…if you want to be happy in a million ways, for the holidays, you can’t beat home sweet home.”
That classic Perry Como Christmas song almost always causes me to sing along. If we hear it as a group, my whole family typically breaks into a loud rendition. But it’s more than just a catchy tune. It’s the truth, though my definition of “home” is anything but conventional. Over the last several years, I’ve had a much harder time figuring out where home is to me. Is it the small city of Peru, Illinois, where I was born? Is it Concord, New Hampshire, where I grew up? Is it Girard, the NE Ohio town that holds my sweetest childhood memories? As I’ve pursued my career, I’ve called a dozen different cities “home” in turn. From Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Syracuse and Rochester, New York, to Hanover, New Hampshire, to Woodward, Oklahoma, to Oklahoma City to Providence, Rhode Island, and multiple towns in Connecticut–I’ve picked up and moved so many times that most of the stops along the way feel like a flash in the pan. I would settle in, unpack, hang pictures, find a church, get comfortable in the community, and make new friends just in time for the next career leap. Honestly, I wouldn’t change much. My gypsy life led me to where I am now. But following a nomadic path makes it much more difficult to define “home.”
For me, my home is my haven. It’s my retreat from the world and the pressures of being a semi-public figure and hosting a national radio show. It’s where I find peace and calm and rest. At home, I don’t have to entertain the masses. At home, I don’t have to know all the answers or generate new creative ideas. At home, I don’t have to talk! When I withdraw, I can let my guard down. I don’t have to be “on.” I’m not Amy Lawrence at home; I’m just Amy. A few weeks ago, I walked in the door of my house after a rough show. I don’t remember exactly what bothered me, probably some mistakes I made on air. But just like clockwork, my dog and two cats were crowded into the foyer to greet me. Penny was shaking her whole back end (because that’s what Australian Shepherds do), and the cats were happily circling around me since they’re all MORNING PEOPLE!! It dawned on me that no football game, no miscue on the radio, no social media insult was more important than breakfast. That’s what “home” means to me: a refuge that offers perspective and balance, where life is nice and boring.
If I published this blog post a month ago, it wouldn’t have included my recent revelation. When I was in Houston for Super Bowl Week, I worked both days and nights. I spent afternoons recording interviews and networking with members of the football and media industries; and I spent nights posted up at our Houston affiliate to host my shows. From Monday through Friday of that week, I didn’t sleep more than four hours at a pop. Instead, I napped whenever I could. It was brutal. What I saw, heard, and experienced made the exhausted effort all worth it; but I was a mess by Friday afternoon when I got to Mom’s house northwest of the city. I finished writing my weekly column about the same time she got home from school. She and her husband wanted to go out to dinner, but I was about to keel over. I took a nap while they went out. Mom woke me out of my daze to eat dinner when they got home; and 90 minutes later, I fell asleep again. Not only did Mom let me sleep 10 hours that night, but she didn’t mind that I took a three-hour nap on Saturday. It was what I needed, and she knew it. That doesn’t happen unless I feel at home.
Maybe the word “home” conjures up a specific image or picture in the minds of most people. Maybe the vast majority envisions a singular location. For me, it’s not an address or geography or even the first house I purchased all by myself. At this point in my life, with all its twists and turns and surprises, home is simply where my pets are and where Mom is, wherever those places happen to be.