Home, it’s the place we run away from and the place we run to.
It can be recreated anywhere, it can be inside us carried from city to city, untouched wilderness to a ship at sea. Sometimes it feels so far away that we don’t know if it ever really existed, if it is a real place or just an idealised dream of somewhere we can find plenitude.
Other times it feels more real than ever, a true comfort of fitting in, of being held safe by a space, by a family, a community or simply by the natural surroundings.
Home is somewhere we can breathe, where the shoulders can stop being pulled up all tense around the ears. It’s somewhere we let go, where muscles can sink down into the floor or the bed and heads can lay down to rest.
It can host gatherings of people with laughter filling the space like it was all we were born to do. It can offer itself up to our shaking bodies, tears erupting out like there’ll never be an end to them. When we’re broken, full of joy, angry at the world, grateful for everything in it or simply feeling numb, home is the place where we can just be. Home doesn’t judge.
I don’t know what homesick really is or if I feel it. I know that there are some days I want nothing more than to be back in the arms of my mother, or to sit around the fire with my dad and step mum and brothers eating hot vegetable soup. Sometimes I feel like I’ve banished myself from home to force myself to grow up and it seems harder than I’d ever imagined. Sometimes I feel like I’ve followed the natural course of things and fled the nest to find adventure, and I live off the thrill of a feast for the senses from travelling to new and far places. Sometimes I don’t know if there ever was really a place for me at “home” or if there will be again.
But then I remember what home is, it’s the place we go to be. And I realise that whenever I think I feel homesick it’s because I don’t feel like I fit in or I’m not letting myself have the space to feel whatever I need to feel, to just be. So I breathe, I remember that nothing appears out of nowhere or dies forever, but everything is in a continuous flow of change.
Sometimes we can kick off our shoes and feel more at home than ever, even if we are on the other side of the world. Other times, we can feel helpless and without a place to call home. Maybe there is one place that is always home, or maybe it moves with us, fluid in the current and carried just as our bodies and souls are.
When I stop clutching onto the side and join the movement downstream, that’s when I feel the least homesick. Because it’s then that I realise how many homes one person can have, and how the word doesn’t have to be used to describe four walls with a roof.
To lie under the stars watching a meteor shower whilst listening to the sound of the waves pull backwards and fall forwards. This is home. On top of a mountain completely alone but for the clouds and the birds, shouting into the empty space with a smile or a cry, this is home. To be cuddled up in a pile of bodies of new and old friends, this is home. To sit around the dinner table, sharing a meal with family, the people who will always be there, who held a babies hand now all grown up and wondering what home is, this is home.
We can make anywhere our home and it can take being far away from home to realise just how much we want to find our way back to that place where we can rest our tired feet. Wherever or whatever that place might be.