how is home?
Four years since leaving ‘home’, the concept is still digesting. I feel like I’ve swallowed it and it’s just hanging around inside me, changing its mind daily about how it wants to make me feel, squirming then sleeping like a cat. Home has acquired a different meaning every time I’ve considered it.
I moved from my home city — from my parents’ house — to the other side of the world. For a while, I thought I was away from home. But then, quite suddenly, I found myself at home in a new place. Still, then and now, Australia is home. Now London is also home. And I’m starting to feel pretty at home here in my little striped hammock on the Ecuadorian coastline. And while we’re already confused, then home is where the heart is, and actually I have hundreds of homes: one for each of the people and places I love. Or maybe I haven’t got a home at all, because I haven’t got a place for the tax office to direct my refund. How is it possible to define home, when it’s so different for each of us? Recently, it’s been like I’ve got a daily email subscription to some kind of Home Redefinition Dictionary being wired direct to my brain.
For some, home is so solid; it’s a place to send roots deep into the rich earth, a place you know better than the curve of your own irises in a clean mirror. Home is known, worn, loved. It exists, physically, in a house or a block or a street. Home is the place to which you know you will always return.
For some, it’s a feeling of place. It’s the accents, the faces, the temperatures, the vegetation. It’s the sensory familiarity that washes back suddenly after a long time away. The quality of the light. The scent of the air.
Perhaps home is the place that those people you cherish are safe, moment to moment. Maybe home is the soft fingernails of your firstborn, the long eyelashes of your lover. Maybe it’s in the smell of your grandmother’s perfume and the spit-and-pop of dad’s roast dinner in the oven.
Maybe it is everything I’ve written and more. Home? It’s wherever I feel free and wrapped up snug all at once. It’s familiar and fresh. It’s completely fluid. Home is flying somewhere new, still smothered in the knowledge of love. Home is happiness and wildness, an understanding that the child inside can cry and spin and spin and forget herself, and be safe. Home is where I bury my treasure.
This week’s epiphany? Home is no more or less than wherever I am when I feel at peace. Home is in my own breath. Home is the rising and falling of my chest and the knowledge that I can move every day and still be in my place. Miraculously, spectacularly, like the sea turtle that I am, I carry home with me. I find comfort in my own presence and let it settle like a thick blanket wherever I may be.
I’ll let you know if home is different next week.