I have just returned home after six months of travelling. But is this really home? After all this travelling I can’t help thinking, what does home mean anyway?!
Home is such a versatile word. To some people it means the house they were raised in, others call it wherever they lay their head that night and others again call a person “home”. The Oxford dictionary contains my favourite definition of home. It states “Home is where something flourishes, is most typically found or from where it originates.” I think there can be separate places or people called “home” for each part of that definition. After some thinking I still wasn’t sure what home really meant to me ….. sooo, I asked a few of my blogger friends what does home mean to them. Here’s what they said.
JADE (Bohemian Muses)
So what does home mean to Jade?
“Home is that unconditional purr or slobbery kiss from your furry friend. Home is the softness of your mothers washing powder and the smell of her cooking. It’s the feel of your own familiar bed rather than the rickety backpacker’s bunk that’s witnessed enough shags to last a lifetime. Home is driving past your friends and waving at them through the open window. It’s the comfort and security of knowing where to go (but for us travelers that is also the driving force that makes us want to leave! So in that sense, home is also travel. Home is the happiness of your soul being fed new and exciting places.)”
AILEEN (I Am Aileen)
What does home mean to Aileen?
“Ever since I started a nomadic lifestyle, people that I meet on the road would typically ask me either of these two questions: “Where are you from?” and “Where were you born?” The clear answer would be, “The Philippines.” But then, there are those who ask me, “Where is your home?” I would quickly reply with the same answer but then my mind would be filled with doubts. “Should I have just said, Belgium? Because that’s where I’m temporarily based right now?” Arriving at no concrete answer, I end up shrugging it off.
However, after a few more trips, stumbling into cities that made me feel right at home, I slowly started thinking more about the question and that’s when I realized that ‘home’ was never really a physical place… For me, home is whatever I carry, keep, and feel inside of me. I don’t need to find one single place to identify as ‘my home’ because travel has taught me that it can be anywhere. It can be found within. So if someone asks me “Where is your home?” I would now playfully reply, “Everywhere!” and if the place feels just about right, I might even say, “Right now? It’s right here!””
And What About Me?
For me it’s quite hard to pin down. You see, I’ve always travelled, always moved. I’ve had a frequent flyer card since the 90s. This makes that one little word mean so many different things to me. Let me tell you my story of home….
In New Zealand, where I was born, we moved house three times. That was once a year. In between those years I took my first trip to America. My mother showed me the world from the time I could walk. I was that child on the plane that everybody silently prayed wasn’t going to sit beside them.
Then, at three years old it was off to England. Over 20hrs on a plane at the age of 3 with my mother & baby sister. Another new house to live in. I don’t think England was ever really home then. But, in the future, it would become it.
After several months in England it was off to the Republic of Ireland (please don’t call it the South, we hate that). Now Dublin, THIS was home. Home number 1 has always been and always will be Ireland. I grew up there. I speak Gaelic. I love a good ceile (that’s an Irish set dance if you weren’t sure).
We had 3 different houses in Dublin. I don’t know if you’re counting but that was 7 different houses we had lived in before I turned 12. Perhaps you see why the word home confuses me somewhat. I don’t know if I can class home as a building. There’s been too many of those. Let’s rule that option out. Despite Ireland being the first home I remember, there was always something in me that longed for New Zealand. The land where I came from, the land that bewitched my parents, the land that I knew I would return to one day. Then there was another home. A rather unexpected one. It was Dublin airport. It was the planes.
My mother had thrust the world at our feet. School was never an issue, we would catch up. By the age of seventeen I, along with my sister, had been to places that most adults dream of visiting. Singapore, Mexico, Australia, Thailand, America, Canada, New Zealand, etc. I was a pro before most teens has even thought about a gap year. If the airport is my home then my passport is the key to the front door. I love that little legal document so much that I almost had a heartattack when I was ased to send my passport away in order to receive my driving license.
Eventually, when I was 21, I made my way back to Wellington, New Zealand. It was not the first time I had returned but it was the first time I had returned alone. This was where I encountered my third home. The minute I stepped off the plane I felt my body relax. It felt like being taken into the arms of a loved one after a long time away. Part of me belonged there, it always had and it always will. This was when I knew that my feeling of “home”, in New Zealand was not just because of family. I was alone and yet I felt it still. So now I knew that home definitely meant more than where your family was.
The most unexpected of homes that I claim is Torbay in Devon. I moved from Dublin to Devon when I was 23 and never once did I think that I would call anywhere in England home. However, I surprised myself. I found a home between the forest and the sea, in the community of wonderful people I met there. That place took root in my heart. Though in comparison to the others I had only spent a short amount of time there (two years), so many great events, changes, revelations and relationships took place in that little piece of England that I will always feel at home there. By this stage I was SURE that home was less about geography and more about feelings and experiences.
I had two apartments in England, and one in New Zealand. So that’s 10 physical places I have lived in my life. But only four homes. I’m not sure if that’s good going or not? I think I’m probably lucky to have more than one home.
So, what does home mean to me?
For me, a home is where you are safe, where you are relaxed, where you are at ease, where people care for you, where your soul soars. Home is where, no matter how bad things get, everything will always be ok. Home is where a good laugh and a long sleep will fix anything. It feels like a warm, comforting safety net.
You can tell it by the smile that refuses to leave your lips as you think of it and most of all you will recognise it when everything goes wrong. It is the place you want to run to when you don’t know what to do. Home is the place in the back of your mind that you will always return to no matter how long it has been
And no matter how long it has been, home will always rise up to greet you with open arms. Whether it’s a person, a place, a building, it will be there, ready and waiting for you. So don’t be afraid to leave home, because it will always be right there when you come back.