I’ve always been really fascinated with the concept of ‘home.’ From my childhood I’ve always preferred to be at home than anywhere else. It was a place of safety, comfort, and family. Even as a teen and now into my young adult years I keep thinking at some point the thought of going out will be more appealing than staying in. But nope, here we are at 24 years old and home is where I want to be. After a weekend away or dinner and drinks with friends there’s always an element of relief knowing I get to eventually open the door to my house in Paris, see my little fur family and collapse into my comfy bed. So all of this has me thinking about what home really means to people. Is it a place? A feeling? Or just the people that you’re with that make some physical place a home?
I’ll start by giving you my concept of ‘home’ and then I will take to Google and see what the internet has to say about this topic. About a year ago I would have said that home was attached to a physical place (address, city, etc.) but mostly because specific people reside there such as a spouse/partner, parents, siblings, children, friends, pets, grandparents, the list goes on. Home was also a place that I could go and knew what to expect. I would have food in the fridge, clean water running out of the taps, a comfortable bedroom, a living room for entertaining my family and friends, a tidy office for building a career that I love, a place to store all the things that allow me to enjoy my hobbies and live a fulfilling life. It’s starting to sound like home really is as much about the atmosphere as it as who you’re with.
Fast forward a year later and nearly 4 months of international travel under my belt, my ideas are the same but vastly different. For those months of living abroad (especially southeast Asia) my concept of home was turned on its head. Think about living out of a backpack for months on end in a foreign country, where’s the home in that? Well, from the girl who once called herself a “homebody,” I’m telling you that even in those circumstances you find home. You find a home in who you’re with and you adjust to the physical place and all the comforts of home really just start to feel like luxuries. My partner and I were recently reflecting on some of the accommodations we stayed in while we were travelling and how some were less than ideal. We didn’t stay in any hostels and for the most part all our apartments were better than decent. But there’s something about not being able to drink the water from the tap for fear of getting deathly ill and having huntsmen spiders in your room that just don’t ring “home sweet home.” Nonetheless, after a sweaty day of adventure in the rice fields of Bali, that one-room, geco-filled space with the most uncomfortable pillows I’ve ever felt, didn’t seem so bad. In fact, it became home.
My conclusion on this is that when you’re fully immersed in life, enjoying every minute of it and when you really have no other options, you find home in the people you’re with and the physical place is really just a place you put your head. I will say though that stepping off that plane after months of travelling, 14 homes, and 13 flights that simply being in your own country makes you so thankful to be home. Now having been back for sometime and into my usual routines, enjoying all the comforts of my home and country, I have to say a washing machine beats hand-washing your clothes in a too-small sink by a million. But even though I love my clean house, I would gladly give it up for at least a little while if it meant I could have another Australian cappuccino. Seriously, the Aussies really know how to jive with java.
So, what is home to you?
Now that I’ve had a chance to do a little digging about ‘home.’ I’ve realized a couple things about how home is interpreted: 1. Home is tied to identity (the “where are you from?” question) and 2. Home is a feeling. When I was travelling I took a lot of pride in responding that I am Canadian and I didn’t realize how important that being Canadian was to my identity until I was out of Canada. There’s also something to be said about knowing the customs and values of your home country that contribute to that sense of familiarity of being ‘at home.’
The other element is the feeling which really encompasses everything I described in my personal definition of ‘home’. A common theme that was continuously popping up was that sense of comfort and safety- the freedom to be yourself while you’re at home. It’s the feeling of relief you experience knowing you get to come home to your spouse and kids after a long day, sipping a glass of wine while watching reality shows in your pyjamas, a warm bath with lit candles on a rainy day- it’s all the things, whether physical or not, that give you a warm, familiar sensation of contentment.
So, my question to you is what is home? Is it your evening routine of drinking tea with a good book before bed? Playing board games and sharing stories with your friends at home on the weekend? Or maybe it’s where your favourite people are? I’m genuinely curious. Maybe your experiences are similar to mine but maybe they are different. Let us know what “makes” a home!