Home is where…?

This is a question I’ve long pondered, as someone who was moved from place to place thanks to my parents’ vocations. The simple question: “where do you come from?” never had a simple answer.
Home used to be where my parents lived. Even after I’d officially ‘left home’ and headed to university, they lived in a house I’d lived in full-time for four years. But these days I object strongly to anyone who refers to my trips to Belfast (where they now live) as trips ‘home’. It is not my home. I have never lived there.
Whenever I dream about ‘home’ it’s my bedroom back in the Shire that I see – even though it hasn’t been mine for 5 years. Obviously my subconscious hasn’t quite caught-up with my geographical moves yet.

But today, as I walked around the city where I spent most of my teenage years (and one of my 20’s), I realised I couldn’t call it ‘home’ anymore. Few friends are left. Few shops are left that were there when I lived there. I don’t have the accent (though, if you ask very nicely, I could possibly do it for you). When I left this afternoon, I came home.

My family might not live here, I might not have been born here, but London’s been my home for over 2 decades. My flat is my home – it’s filled with my junk and it’s the place I retreat to when life becomes a bit much.
Is ‘home’ a word we use too casually? Do we fully understand what it means to feel ‘at home’? And, most importantly, how do we recapture the feeling of ‘home’ we once had – wherever and whenever that might have been – when its absence in our lives is so acute?

Comments

  1. It’s a funny thing, huh. I don’t know how to clarify when I say I’m going “home” to visit family (where I grew up) and then I’ll come “home” where I’ve lived for the past decade. They are both “home”.

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