Tuesday, March 28, 2006

there's no place like home

I was trying to write a comment on Mair's blog about 'home' (why can I never get a link to your site to work sensibly?!) and realised it was turning out to be longer than the original post so it's here instead!

Where is home? What makes it home?

Places I call home without thinking -
the house I live in
Wellington (where I live now)
but also...
Mum & Dad's house (regardless of where they might be living)
Holmfirth/the Holme Valley (where I grew up)
Edinburgh (where I lived for 12 1/2 years before moving here)
Scotland (ditto!)
Britain - but rarely England! (where I'm 'from' - which opens up a whole other long list of options/definitions in itself)

That covers a good few thousand miles of a round trip to visit them all!

If 'home is where the heart is' then that conjours up an image of William Wallace - in otherwords, decidedly scattered. If it's where the majority of my stuff is well I can't say that a storage locker in Sighthill (Edinburgh) holds much in the way of an emotional attachment that's for sure.

I've said to many people that I feel at home here in Aotearoa New Zealand, more at home here than anywhere else I've lived - yet another definition of home... in this case a sense of belonging, of connection to the land and people. In Edinburgh, despite having been there so long (more than a third of my life), there was always the sense of not quite belonging, but I'll still say 'back home' and mean there!

I shipped over a couple of boxes of stuff here to 'make it feel more like home' - and having some familiar things around does help, even though quite a few of the things are ones that weren't so prominant in previous 'homes', or that haven't been for some years. It helps the space feel more 'me' though and less transient, it takes away the B&B feel that the guest rooms (unsurprisingly) have. Making a house a home is something I find fairly easy, but whilst I may call the town where I'm living home automatically it needs to be more than that to stay 'home' after I've left - even after 5 years in Newcastle it was never home in an emotional sense.

My ex used to get quite indignant when I talked about 'going home to Mum & Dad's' and say 'but this is home', as if I were belittling our own domestic set up (which I also called home), and once they left where I'd grown up (again!) and I called their new house home even before I'd been there that just went beyond all understanding for him. But their new house still had them in it, and the stuff I'd grown up with so why shouldn't it be home? The view had changed but I instinctively know my way around where things are likely to be as it's, well, home... somewhere where I know 'the rules', can relax and just be.

I get asked 'what are you going to do when you go back home?' quite often yet it still throws me each time as both the 'what are you going to do' and 'back home' parts of the sentence feel like complete blanks - 'back home'? Where is that supposed to mean? In this context it implies that my home isn't here and yet here is 'home' far more than anywhere else on the list, and in anycase I don't actually have an actual physical home to go back to nor a reason to head to any particular place to make one. I'm waiting for the next call still, and hoping that whatever comes along keeps me somewhere between Cape Rienga and Stewart Island.

Home is another of those words, like love, that can mean so many things that it is almost beyond definition. But if I were to click the heels of my red shoes together I'd end up either in the house I live in or down on the Wellington waterfront.

1 comment:

flurble said...


The "link" button by each post should give you the URL for the post ...

And, yes, the thing about places being home, or not. I know that I'm finding that Southampton is quite adequate as a place, nothing wrong with it, got a nice river view, etc, but somehow it doesn't have the place in my heart that Edinburgh does...

How much of that is to do with the place itself, and how much the people I found there, I don't know. Maybe when I've been here longer I'll have a better idea.