“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” (What Happened to Goodbye, Sarah Dessen)
I googled the word homesick the other day. I was sat in a Starbucks opposite Nick. It was all very regular, hot tea and even a baked good in hand. For some reason, I couldn’t concentrate on anything on my computer. So, I ended up watching people receiving their drinks. As I watched a mirage of bystanders receive their mocha- triple capp– coconut milk – sugar free – half fat – with cream – chino- with a side of honey, I cried. I felt lost, isolated and disconnected from this place. Everything looked like something I’d seen before, but I felt uncomfortable still.
It turns out all these feelings are similar to homesickness. When one longs for the feeling of ease, stability and support that comes from being in the place you feel at home.
Home is such a buzzword, what’s a home anyway?
“The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.”
Now, I’ve lived permanently in quite a lot of places as a household. For me that does not a home make. When I was travelling I was spending more time out of the country, than in the country, which would of made me, a citizen of the world. Yet, I cannot deny the feeling of home that would only come about when I was where I actually identified with as home. I don’t strongly identify with the country I was brought up in, but I identify with my family, the friends I consider family, and the feeling of comfort I have around only those people.
There in Starbucks, I was fighting the idea that, I, world traveller, would find it hard to be somewhere so much the same as home. But it’s not the place, it’s what’s lacking from the place. Nowhere was familiar, hardly anyone brings that easy breeze of similarity and freedom. I was fighting against my uneasiness, which led to a tiny action of coffee drinks, bringing out a strong emotion.
When I was a child one of my favorite things was The Wizard Of Oz. I was so attached to my stuffed dog Toto, that my aunt was horrified to find out that I no longer have my beloved fake best friend. Ironically, even at the age of 24, when I’m moving to a different country, with my fiancé, it was still surprising to find out, whilst packing, that I no longer hold on to that particular toy. That’s the level of love. I don’t know what attached me so much to the story. Leaving the black and white regular world, and entering into a world of magic and discovery, with your best pal Toto, pretty much hit the nail on the head of this little girl’s dream.
Now I’m starting a new life, in a new place, I could look at it as entering the world of colour and adventure, after a world of predictable black and white. I usually jump at the chance to travel. I was lucky enough to travel a lot as a child, experiencing munchkin land, but still with my brothers and sister in fighting distance. As soon as I graduated, I wanted to travel and see what else there was on the other side of the rainbow. The grass must be greener in New Zealand? It really was greener, the sand was even a glossy black, making me feel as though I was in some kind of mystical Hitchcock film. Yet, when I returned back to the mothership, I never felt satisfied. There was always somewhere I hadn’t seen, someone I hadn’t laughed in a tut-tut with, some Lama I hadn’t seen pick up a snake with its toes.
Given my love of travel I still had a base, and people who made me feel secure. I could gallivant and return all the rest unchanged. I figured out quickly (2 years after graduating), that the incessant travelling wasn’t actually going to cut it. I wanted to have roots. For the first time, I realized I wanted stability. To find the magic in my own potential and surroundings, que Dorothys’ wisdom;
“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I travelled, wanderlust and unattached. Without leaving my back yard I wouldn’t of met Nick, I wouldn’t have learnt to be alone and I wouldn’t of had so many other encounters I treasure. But I’m so grateful I had a place to come back to. A place to hold everywhere else up against, and people to share with what I’d discovered. Now I’ve changed my place and it really hasn’t felt the same as when I travelled before, I’m no longer following the yellow brick road melody. It’s not travel anymore. This is supposed to be the new home. Maybe that’s what got me freaking out in a Starbucks?
Nick pointed out to me that we were still in a state of motion. We’re only here for another week or two, and then off on a road-trip, and then staying with friends, and then finally reaching our summer 5-month home. The sturdy notion of home isn’t something that really fits anymore.
It doesn’t feel like I’m aimlessly travelling anymore. I’m so much more in tune with those who provide the bricks and mortar of my home these days. I’m having to come to terms with what can make my home. What can withstand the distance. I’m here with the person who makes me feel the most protected and backed up. Anywhere else would be a home with no roof without him. My home can travel with me now. No matter where I go I have my foundations, my family and my roof is here, with me, which gives me the strength to go out, and find some walls in my new surroundings.
Where do you feel at home? What does home mean to you anyway?