I often think about the idea of home. The idea of this place where you feel whole. A place where you belong.
But home seems like such a blurry concept.
If you think about it, I mostly associate the city where I grew up in with the word “home.” My parents and pretty much all of my family still live there. When I go back, I’m able to slow down and feel comfortable (mostly). I know what routes to take to go to my favourite restaurants or to the mall and shopping markets. This home often fills me with nostalgia.
But after about ten days in the city, I know that I need to leave. Maybe that’s because I become my older self when I’m home. I struggle with that idea of individuality, I feel less inspired, I constantly plan for the next step and that next step is never something rooted in my hometown. This home often serves as a temporary break from life.
I’ve lived in different cities and different countries in the past few years. While every move has been slightly unsettling at first, I eventually find a sense of home in most places.
A month ago, I found that in a small café in the city of Split in Croatia. Just three short visits to the restaurant in two days, a few conversations with bartenders and other travelers, and a weird internal connection to what this café embodied made me feel at home. It was home at least for the time I was there before leaving for the next city and then the next country.
I’ve had so many homes and none at all. When you are a part of this constantly changing, constantly moving world, it’s so difficult to feel at home anywhere. There’s often this longing to go somewhere else – often with the intent of chasing the idea of home. No, not a house built with brick and mortar. Just home. Just that feeling of breathing freely, of wanting to be rooted in this one place forever.
I wrote about home in this blog a few years ago. This is what I said at the time: “Our home is made all-embracing by the people we live with and that particular sentiment of knowing that this is the place you can effortlessly count on. That’s what I miss the most about home: the liberty of taking things for granted.”
So much of this seems so real even today. But maybe the present is just a little more nuanced, a little more raw.
I was listening to an old episode of Dear Sugars podcast yesterday. Dear Sugars is an audio show where people ask hosts Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond some of their most existential questions related to relationships and life. In this episode called Location, Location, Location, they talked about home.
What stuck with me was the story of author Pam Houston, who also wrote a memoir about finding her forever-home on a ranch in Colorado – far away from where she grew up, where her job was or where her partner lived.
It’s so tough for me to think of one place as my forever-home.
My idea of home has often shuttled between the ideas of family, of dream, of love, of stability, of belonging. But today I feel that home isn’t really a place. Home is a feeling. Home is an emotion. And I guess I will be at home at different times in different places and none of that will be forever. Because what is?