-a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household
-any place of residence or refuge
-a person’s native place or own country.
A quick Google search tells me that home is where the heart is, or that home is who is who is there with you.
I’m not sure though that those descriptions are adequate. Bangalore was home after I’d been here six days, and I knew no-one except for my colleagues. When people asked me how I was going over here, the only thing I could say was that India felt like ‘home’ already, and it was weird. I never have felt out of place, or different. In a culture that is so foreign and where I clearly look different to the vast majority of people, it’s weird how normal I feel, and how comfortable I am.
Is it more than just where we are physically located?
I have many other ‘homes’. The earthquakes we experienced in Christchurch from 2010 onward changed my definition of home. My home was no longer safe, a refuge. Much of my life, possessions, routines, all had gone. There was no security, no refuge. This, over time, made me realise that those things that we strive for so much in life- the internal-access-garage, the dishwasher, the huge sprawling house with tiled floors and immaculately painted walls – it’s not home. The heart doesn’t care about that stuff. Even though so much had been taken from me, Christchurch was still home.
A spiritual home?
There is a place, down the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand called Papatowai. It is a place where the ancient heavy forest fringes the sand, with the wild waves tearing, hungrily devouring the beach. The wind tussles with your hair, the salt spray stinging on your exposed skin. It is home and I pine for it.
Can a person be home?
A person can be home. I met Amanda not long after I moved to Christchurch. It was my first time going to a martial arts class. I awkwardly walked down to where I’d been told to go and there was this woman my age sitting there, on her own. We sat next to each other and the conversation started and now, more than ten years, many episodes of America’s Next Top Model, too many boyfriends (mine), one husband each, and two children later (her), the conversation has never really stopped. I feel that we intuitively understand each other, there’s a bond there that has surpassed other friendships, she is home. There are very few people in my life who I remember meeting so vividly, and fewer still who have found a home in my heart.
I think home is more than just the confluence of place and people. It’s an idea you take with you, it’s inside your heart. For a long time after I left my ex-husband, I had no home. Restless, I roamed, unable to relax, to stop, to feel peace.
I listened to a TED talk once where someone said that his concept of home is a stained glass window, pieced together from his life and experiences; that he left a piece of his soul everywhere he’d been, and took a bit of that place away in his heart.
So why is India home?
Because, despite the heartbreak, despite my family and friends being thousands of miles away, despite India being challenging and exhausting… inside my heart I know I am meant to be here. I have chosen to move here, chosen to make this chaotic city my home. I am far enough away from the emotional noise of my ex-husband and Enrique, that I can stop and feel peace.
My stained-glass-window heart now has a bit of India tucked into it, and India will forever have a piece of my heart.
Where is your home?