It doesn’t often happen to me to feel the need to slice open my heart on a public surgery table, but since this little space is (arguably) as much of a private affair as it is an “all welcome” things, then I allow myself, every once in a while, to rant and rave. The issue at stake here? Something that’s always on my mind, in one way or another: homes. As a foreign student learning and living in a country other than that which I was born in, I often get to ask myself, in-between one flight and another, where, exactly, is my home?
The conclusion being: neither here nor there. This might strike many as a sad thing to say and even sadder thing to believe, but to me it is neither sad nor disconcerting. To me, home is not and cannot be a place, not even when that place contains people and things you love. To me, home is necessarily a frame of mind, a combination of circumstances leading to the feeling of home. This feeling, this frame of mind, happens to me randomly, in various places and at various times. Not being one who – despite the obligatory tos and fros between my native country and the country where I study – travels overmuch, I still consider myself, in many ways, a nomad. A spiritual nomad if you will, a mindset nomad, maybe, but nonetheless a traveller, always on the run, never troubling to settle down – simply because settling down is impossible.
Can’t come home,/ No one wants you once you’ve gone – I once, when feeling rather melancholy and unsettled, used these lyrics from Woodpigeon’s “Home as a Romanticized Concept (Where Everyone Loves You Always and Forever)” in a status. A well-meaning friend immediately jumped to the conclusion that I must have had an argument with my parents over Skype and that they probably told me to never come back home or some such nonsense. Of course, nothing was further from the truth. I felt slightly guilty then, but I still couldn’t help but believe in the truth contained in those two lines. You see, it isn’t that people will up and tell you to your face – “You’ve left this country, you’ve left all of us behind, we don’t want you back” – no, they probably won’t even think something like that, ever. Still, there are the changes and the subtle rifts. Once you leave, contact is lost, even in spite of daily video sessions or whathaveyou. People change, they move on, you yourself change, evolve, start thinking differently. And in the end, even though you still love everyone and everyone still loves you, there are gaps in your relationships which cannot be filled in and which become permanent. That is why home is, to me, necessarily a frame of mind which appears randomly: because those splits and changes are forever; even the spaces you love (or you once used to love) change and grow without you. You become a stranger.
And all of those are reasons why I am perfectly happy moving back and forth, between one place and another, physically as well as mentally. Since time cannot be arrested, it is much easier to make a home out of a flow of experiences, of hellos and goodbyes said to old and new acquaintances, of fears and challenges and shifting beliefs. Because a home built that way cannot topple and fall, it can only grow and grow some more. I wonder if all nomads feel the same.