What is it that makes somewhere feel like home? And why have I never felt this way about a place? I have spent a long time searching in my past for the answer to how I could feel so lost in my own country, but the question I should have asked is how do I move forward?
Well, human friends, this is why I’m going travelling. This is why, in four weeks, I will begin searching for Home in unexpected places.
Describe what home means to you.
Twelve years ago I had to write an essay in a mock-GCSE exam entitled ‘Describe what home means to you.’ I imagined the red brick houses you see dotted about in the deep British countryside, complete with an open fireplace and – most importantly, since I’d grown up in a city with no pets – a dog or two. I thought of ‘family’ as a concept rather than the real deal; the TV-kind, the dream kind, the imaginary family who’d laugh together on Christmas day and start a WhatsApp group (or back then, an email chain) that no one can decide if they resent or find cute after dad makes a bad joke in response to every second message.
Understanding the privilege of having a roof over your head doesn’t seize the yearning for a dream house. Nah, I don’t mean some weirdass pink Barbie fantasy, I just mean a place where home is a place you get looked after when you’re sick, can call when you’re going through a crisis or have someone who’ll drink tea with you in the morning. I didn’t care if these people were direct relatives, new friends or had sprouted from the ground, if they were a hag or human. But all those years ago, as I looked to my future, I realised that no matter where I lived or what I did, I longed for a sense of togetherness that would feel homely.
Okay, back to the exam…
I didn’t realise I yearned for travel.
Faced with a time limit and teachers pacing between the rows of children scrawling anxiously over tiny wooden desks, my original Home is a Support Network idea never surfaced and I was left scribbling something entirely different on to the page. Nonetheless, my Describe what home means to you was still conceptual; I wrote almost three A4 pages gushing about how ‘Earth’ was home to me. Despite having not yet been on a plane, I scrawled destination buzzwords between the horizontal lines. ‘To the mountains, to the coast.’ I enthused about looking up through the tallest treetops and imagined countries with crystal clear coasts.
I stepped away wondering why that drivel had just spilled from my pen, but really I had been reflecting on the one other thing I truly longed for – to travel.
Home has to be out there somewhere, right?
Back to the present! I’m sitting in my PJ’s, surrounded by piles of things I have to sell, move or pack before I leave the country in 4 weeks. Oh s*it, that’s pretty soon right? Yup, and we’re talking the one-way kind of leaving. The I have to keep going because there’s no way I’m coming back kind of leaving.
And of course I have no idea if Home is out there, but if I can’t find a sense of belonging in the country I’ve lived in for 27 years, it’s time to try something different. When something isn’t working despite all your best efforts, I must believe I have simply been looking for Hope and Home in the wrong places.
Annndd, y’know, if my mission fails, at least I’ll get to eat lots of noodles and swim with the fishes aka go snorkelling.
Home Seek Home
If I can’t find my own Home Sweet Home, I hope that I can at least find yours. I mean, not literally yours, that would be creepy. I ain’t planning on moving in, but perhaps I can be a better listener and consider the lives of others instead of my own.
Over the years I have become disillusioned with humanity, yet travellers always come back with one common idea – that humans are good, kind and hospitable. These tales of kindness have come to inspire me, and I hope I can learn from these so-called Good Humans on my journey.
Okay, I really must stop writing and get organised! So on that note, see you in hell. No wait! I mean home.
I definitely mean home. I just hope it’s out there.