It may be that there is no place like home, but there are a few for who home is a nostalgic notion of past dwelling. It is also a sense of present belonging to a place. Both are elusive ideas, one in the past and one that is in the tenuous notion of a present that moves toward the future with every passing microsecond. It’s been said that home is where you hang your hat, where your heart is --or maybe it really is just the nicest word. Home is supposed to be the place where they understand you, or the place where you fit in, Most days, if you ask where home is, I can’t really say if it’s where I’ve been or where I am going, but it may be that home is probably really only where my boots are and a place of belonging that I create for myself.
To be from somewhere is to indicate where your journey began. In that case, my home of the past is a small country ranch house surrounded by fruit trees and a garden, framed by the desert and bordered by mountains. Remembering this abstraction of home I can sense the smell the hot sage in the summer air, recall the silhouette of purple mountains against the sherbet sunrise or perceive the crisp sound of silence muffled in the winter snow. These ethereal sensory inputs inform my base identification of a home, giving a place to stick a pin in a map and fill the space on my birth certificate. But I cannot return to this home, because it no longer exists. Most of the environment still remains, but all else has changed. Once you’ve left, you can never go home again because that version of home ceases to exist as an individual evolves.
To be from somewhere can also indicate where you permanently inhabit or where your keep your worldly possessions. By these parameters, I am from a rain soaked island in a small sailing town that lays futile claim in being the sunniest of places in the green and damp of the British Isles. Here, there are no mountains and it rarely snows; the skies are often coloured the cold dull grey of dirty dishwater and the winter winds blow their fierce chill. This place is my home, or more formally, my domicile. It is where I live, though I might not be there in at any given present. Yet this home also changes around me as friends come and friends go and as I come and go returning a different person.
For the wanderer, there has to be a different sense of home. Home is not only the place that you were born and the places where you have sent your post, but it is where your boots are located in the present. Home is a place of mind that is made up of a myriad of memories and experiences collected on the road. It is, no doubt, made up of the place that you’re from, but most importantly, it is the place where you are in the present. Belonging to a place can be determined only in the mind and what better place to belong than the place that you experience in this moment? Carrying home with you wherever you roam makes the entire world a very homey place.
As time keeps moving away from the present and indefinitely into a future, the place that is home keeps extending limitless in a straight line to times and places that lie ahead. Home is the present/future rather than past and for those who wander away it is impossible to return to home because they have embarked not only on a journey of geography, but also on a journey of the mind. Rolling stones are continuously whittled and polished by the experiences they encounter, redefining a sense of self and likewise their sense of belonging. Perhaps a wanderer has a forwarding address unknown, but this particular is immaterial as home is truly only a state of being in the mind.
Home is the place where I belong in the present progressing into the future, but it is also the places and moments where I can connect with my kith and kin. My community it not found in single geographic location in the place where I started. Rather, is it a collection of people with whom I deposit belonging, scattered across the time zones around the globe. The song says that you only hate the road when you’re missing home, but it is difficult to ever feel homesick because home is where I am, bolstered by technology enabling the frequent contact with one’s fellows. Lucky for me, home is everywhere that three taps on the heels of my red slippers and a good internet connection can take me.
So while home may only be the present place of being for the wanderer, at least there is no complaining that there’s nothing to write home about, should you know where to send it.
Corine loves a good adventure. She's partial to wilderness, UNESCO World Heritage sites and wine. Based in the United Kingdom, she has roamed the trails and streets of six continents. This is a chronicle of her experiences, seasoned liberally with philosophical musings.