Looking For Home
There is perhaps no question that confuses me more – other than the question about my accent perhaps – than the question of where my home is. In fact, when I ask myself that question its usually followed by an internal philosophical debate and parallel identity crisis.
Someone once said that home is where everything starts. So is it the place we grew up? Surely not, since we all move out sooner or later. Or, by extension, is it where we have a bed? My friends talk of “home” as the place we currently sleep and “home home” as our parents’ place. Someone said that home is where people understand you, and someone else said that home is where you are understood. Is “home” then not an unmoving place but a series of continuously moving and merging relationships? Is home the place I have lived the last three years and know every side street, every menu in every restaurant? Or is home really ‘where the wifi connects automatically’? Because in that case Shiphol International and Heathrow Airport are my home and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Honestly – I don’t know. But I’m pretty certain I am not alone on this one.
From Local to Global – and Back Again
In the ever growing interconnection between cultures and countries so many of us do not define “home” as a single place. Home is no longer – necessarily – “local”. We no longer confine our job search or university and college choice to the closest town, but look beyond out borders to exciting alternatives – with cheaper travel and connection to the internet we have experienced an expansion of our comfort zones. Or a lot of us have, anyway.
So are we all becoming (global) “citizens of the world”? Perhaps. But while I agree with this move away from nationalism, and surely don’t agree with Theresa May’s most recent sentiment that a “citizen of the world is a citizen of nowhere” – an insult to those of us not identifying home with a country, and a downright death sentence to those forced to flee their home – I’m not sure whether I can, personally, identify with enough of the world to really claim complete citizenship over it – or is that perhaps a matter of time? But maybe thats’s a discussion for another time. Thoughts?
Between the Coffee Shop and my Heart
In the meantime, I think I’ve found my own definition of “home”. Home is, a little bit, my childhood bedroom, the smell of my moms food, and the sound of a hand digging through a box of Legos.
Home is that one bookshop in Pennsylvania with the Starbucks right next to the comic book isle – the origin of my love for both coffee and comic books. I used to joke that the coffee shop is my home – there was something about the comfort that everywhere in the world coffee shops smelled and looked and worked the same way. But there is something disconcerting about the idea of rooting my sense of home in my caffeine addiction, so lets leave that one out.
Home is the student union pub in Cardiff that served as a communal living room for three years. Home is that one spot on that one friends terrace. Home is in that little spot by the ocean outside of Melbourne where the waves crash endlessly against the black rock, that hill top in San Fransisco that looks out over the Bay, that bench in Singapore where I made a life long friend.
I think I’ve left a little bit of myself in every part of the world – and carry a little bit of the world around with me wherever I go. But first and foremost, and in the words of someone who has phrased it better than I could have: “Home is where my heart is – and I hope that mine keeps beating right here.”
Cover Image; Calvin and Hobbes
Comic strips and images copyright to Bill Watterson