Do you remember the first place that felt like Home?
For many people it will be the house/s of their childhood, spaces of palpable warmth and security, surrounded by a loving family. It was firm and fixed and was only as mobile as the family that personified it.
Yet as we grow older and the more we travel those things that once seemed solid and intransient can often be revealed as anything but. For me, I found that my concept of Home travelled as readily, and evolved as steadily, as I did.
Many travellers will have felt that wonderful moment of epiphany when a city or a town or a place connects with something deep inside them and instantly offers itself as a Home. Just as strong is that slow relationship that time builds with a place, a bond that you might not even be aware of until you try to leave.
These are not treacheries against the Homes of your past. The desire for a place of safety, a den, a shelter, a space all our own is potentially the most basic human instinct. We are the accumulation of the places we have been, the people we have loved and the little bits of the earth where our heart has taken root. Each new Home becomes another point in a web around the world by which we find/define ourselves.
It’s an age-old wisdom that the people make the place. Bricks and mortar can define a space but it is the people you love that bind memories to the place.
Home is the sum of its moving parts. Home is where the hearts are.
One such Home was Edinburgh. Even though she is a city etched in grime she wears her cloak of clouds as regally as any queen. She is a wonder to behold. There is a reason that finding love is likened to falling; you have as much control over it as you have the power to countermand gravity. With every friend she offered I fell more in love with the city and the hearts that made her up. She welcomed me in becoming friend, confidante, and, ultimately, family.
In contrast, London could never be a Home to me. Yet a little house on its outskirts with a comfy couch, 2 lazy cats and one generous soul, who knows the importance of laughter, will forever be a refuge for me.
With another friend, we shared no fixed place, had no borders with which to define Home. We were at Home on a patch of grass, or in a pub or shopping mall. Never did we get the chance to re-visit the places in which our memories of each other had formed. Those Homes lived and died with the moments, moving on as we did.
These waypoints of our lives can’t stand still like the memories we have of them. They are only as stationary as the people whom had made it a Home. People have their own lives to live and the Homes we knew splinter, slowly at first and then with what feels like terrible speed, and the splinters drift away like dandelion seeds on the wind.
It’s impossible not to feel the sad regret of things lost, but in the aftermath of leaving so many Homes behind I have been shown something: The thing about people is they have a habit of tracing the lines of their hearts right back to you.
Last week a big fragment of my Edinburgh Home flew back into my life. This week the generous soul from London will be landing in the city of my birth, looking for bubbly and good food. And there are never any shortages of promises from English, Canadians and Swedes to reappear in the future. And with each of them come the joy, happiness and sense of foreverness that true friendship brings.
The Homes that become us never disappear; they simply take flight and are given new life.
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