The Topic: What is Home?

What is home? It’s where they have to take you in, the sampler says. It’s comfortable familiarity, a sense of safety and relaxation, if you’re lucky; the echo of loved ones’ voices, the shape of the hills, and wind off the water; the exhilaration of rounding the bend to see your city rise into view or flying over the irregular shapes of mountains, vineyards, fields and bays, knowing you’re almost there. It’s the daily sounds of life on your street, children, and dogs leaping with joy to see you return; dear friends laughing over the weirdness of life. It’s where you know you belong.

So, we asked the question: Of all the places you’ve lived, what place felt most like home to you and why?

Roundable_IbrahimAmeera Ibrahim

Assistant professor of Business Analytics

Cairo, Egypt is where I grew up and had my childhood memories. I met my husband there and had my first car and first house. Massachusetts is also special. I lived there for four years, got my doctoral degree there and my beautiful twin daughters were born there. Finally, California is home, for sure. I remember when I visited California for the first time in 2011. I felt this was exactly where I want to live the rest of my life. Three years later, my dream came true when I got my first job here in California at Saint Mary’s College!


Roundtable_JacksonBreezy Jackson ’04

Wildlife biologist, Yosemite National Park

I spent two summers living and working at a remote fire lookout in Washington. I had my big chocolate lab named Ray Ray with me. Each morning we watched the sunrise from our little catwalk, over coffee and fresh-baked cinnamon rolls made in my tiny propane oven that was hauled up by mule train. We looked for smokes and visited with hikers all day. In the evening, we hiked down to the lake for a swim or to collect huckleberries, returning to the lookout to watch the thunderheads boil and the sun set over the entire world.


Roundtable_HilkinBrother Charles Hilken FSC

Professor of history and chair of the Bishop John S. Cummins Institute for Catholic Thought, Culture and Action

Alameda will always be home for me. I spent 13 formative years there and everything about it—family, climate, architecture, and idle adolescent pursuits—all conspired to etch in my spirit what home means. Trudging the compact sand of the shoreline with its smells of the bay, sometimes fetid from low tide or shark carcass; riding the eight-mile length of the island on my two-speed, silver, high-handlebar bike, alongside Jimmy, my boyhood friend; walking to and from Saint Barnabas for school or church, passing California bungalow homes, Foster’s Freeze, and neighborhood shops; all these memories and more can and do bring me home.


Roundtable_ChambersDavid Chambers

Assistant professor, Department of Biology

The one place that felt the most like home was a home I never lived in. It was my best friend’s home. I grew up and spent the majority of my life near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A friend since kindergarten lived on 600 acres of awesomeness. As little kids (and admittedly even as recent as last Christmas), we roamed every square inch of that property. I loved fishing at the pond in the summer, playing baseball on the field during the spring, and playing pond hockey every winter when the water froze. My heart will always be in that park.


Roundtable_McClellandKarin McClelland ’90

Director of the Mission and Ministry Center

After living in and traveling to many amazing cities, I realize home isn’t about the wow factor. It’s the place you go where they feed you, offer you a bed, listen to you, laugh with you and love you. Home is the place where you can talk with people for hours and never once discuss your title, your degree, how much money you make, or where you’ve traveled, because they knew you when! Home is the people and places that live in each of us that are the source of our strength and the goodness we return to the world.


Roundtable_BaileyToussaint Bailey ’02

Litigation partner at Richards, Watson & Gershon

Home is where the heart is. I've never felt more at home than I did last September on my 35th birthday when my wife and I brought our daughter from the hospital to our townhouse in Corte Madera. Her giggles, cries, and growls (yes) added just the right amount of life to turn our house into a full-fledged home. Sitting with Louise on the edge of the bed in the morning, staring at our favorite tree; watching her pucker in disgust as she tastes foods for the first time; even changing the occasional “blowout” diaper…yeah, that’s home to me.


Roundtable_OakesKaya Oakes MFA ’97

Author, writing faculty at University of California, Berkeley

My idea of home has always been shaped by the Bay Area, from my parents’ house in Oakland, to my grandparents’ house in Lafayette, to the bookstores of San Francisco and Berkeley, to Saint Mary’s as a student, to UC Berkeley where I’ve taught for 16 years, and back around again to Oakland where I live. And every day, I’m grateful that this home I share with millions is wildly diverse, beautiful, creative, and challenging.


Roundtable_TywoniakEd Tywoniak

Associate professor, Communication Studies

We oftentimes hear the remark that “home is where you hang your hat,” and there’s certainly much truth to this aphorism. My wife and I are fortunate to call San Francisco, the city of our birth, our first home. We’ve also lived in Oakland for more than 30 years, and that is certainly home. But we find ourselves most at home at our tiny cabin in the mountains—a place where the entire family can hang their hats and experience the wondrous beauty of our most beautiful home—Mother Earth!


Roundtable_BibleAmanda Bible ’07

Assistant coach, women’s volleyball                 

After graduating and working at Saint Mary's, I took a chance in 2009 and traveled to Europe to play volleyball. Fate placed me in the seaside town of Koper, Slovenia for my first season abroad. Immediately my teammates, coaches, and club president made me feel at home; invitations for family meals, ski trips, wine- and sausage-making lessons, and daily coffee dates overlooking the Adriatic. The small country’s slogan, “I feel sLOVEnia,” felt like it had been created just for me. And go figure, I married a Slovenian five years later and brought him back to my SMC home.


Roundtable_O'ConnorRosemary O’Connor ’86

Author and outreach manager for Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

When I think of “home” I think of a place which is safe, warm, supportive, with a lot of laughter. Home is a place that allows me to grow and be the full expression of who I really am. Home is a place where I feel a connection with God and receive love from all of those around me. This place for me is in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.