Our two-story wooden cottage in Old Orchard Beach, Maine,
with the extended front porch, a dozen rocking chairs and a whitewashed fence,had a soul. Houses with names often do, particularly old ones. The Tide Rock House had a soul as ancient as the icy sea water that washed against the shoreline several hundred yards from the end of the street. The living room had an out of tune piano and a roll top desk and the iceman came every three days
to deliver huge blocks of ice for the refrigerator on the porch.

We went there every summer when I was a child, and I loved
climbing on the rocks by the ocean and poking my small fingers into the sudsy tide pools. I upset small fishes, miniature crabs with transparent legs, shell chips and seaweed strands, all scattered amid colorful pieces of broken plastic and the occasional used condom that I mistook for jellyfish body parts. I gathered shell specimens, washed off the sand, and placed them on top of my wooden dresser.

One time, a tiny crab crawled out of a shell, scrambled the
length of the creaky old dresser, scaled down the side and imbedded itself in a crack between two stuck drawers. I watched for a moment, got distracted and forgot about it until the next day. When I went back to search for it, the crab was gone. I like to think the house protected it until no one was around and then somehow helped it get away. It could have happened; the Tide Rock House was like that. A home with a soul that could never die.

Home became a lot less solid as I grew up. I spent my teenage life on the road, touring with a ballet company and living in hotels, and
I imagined a home that was all mine, filled with beautiful things that meant the world to me. I was once at a gala ballet reception at Lincoln Center where I heard a girl say quite casually, “I feel at home everywhere.”

“I don’t feel at home anywhere,” I told her. But now I do.
My current home couldn’t be more different than my childhood haunt, but like the Tide Rock House, it has a soul and a name. I call it “The Sanctuary” and it constantly lives up to my expectations. It greets me when I come home, it lulls me when I’m anxious, it warms and cools me when the weather is intemperate and it keeps me safe when I feel afraid. In the night, when all is quiet and my cat, Star, is resting beside me, I can almost hear a deep hum of contentment as
if my home is singing me a lullaby. Like a mother might do.

Home is what we make it. It doesn’t matter if it’s sprawling
or tiny. It doesn’t matter if if it has an Electrolux range or a two burner stove top from Home Depot. A sub zero refrigerator with an icemaker or a mini-fridge with no freezer. Home has nothing to do with square footage or the number of rooms. It has everything to do with how we think about it, how we take care of it and the things with which we surround ourselves. If we give our home a heart and soul, if we fill it with beauty and kindness, it will reward us with acceptance and safety.

Maya Angelou said, “The ache for home lives in all of us,
the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”