“Home. A patch of land. A group of people. A place. A feeling. That eternal search to belong. Like many travellers I’ve been on that journey. That adventure. That search. And as I board another plane I’ve come to realise that mine is a portable one. It has no bricks and it has no door. Sometimes it’s surrounded by the most beautiful people and sometimes none at all. It’s nowhere I’ve been and none of the amazing places I am still to discover. Home is wherever you’re with you.” ~ Rebecca Campbell
I’m not one for quoting – unless it’s in regard to Twitter or Instagram, where I quote without a second thought. I prefer to write the text myself. But every so often, something I read touches me physically, its hand reaching deeper than I would have thought possible, and it is in these moments, and instances like them, that I feel compelled.
Although what is written above was written about someone else – and could also (coincidentally) just as easily have been written about you – it might equally have been written about me, so close is it to my own truth. I am constantly searching for that place to call ‘home’, that special ‘somewhere’ I belong. And while I look back and romanticise certain parts of my life – as, no doubt, I’m sure we all do; tinting them with pretty colours as if decorating a room: I know in my heart this image is a lie. The truth is colder, darker, challenged: soured by trial and trauma; conflict. Things that go bump, bumped. Things with sharp edges, cut. Hands that held, mouths that touched, words that were shared, crushed. Even the London years (years I consider to be amongst my best – when I felt like I was, perhaps for the first time, beginning to discover myself: who I was, who I still am…) were, in truth, difficult, chaotic and tragic. There was a run of three years (ironically, in my favourite home: the one I look back on the most – often choosing as my ‘special’ place when I meditate, somewhere I go to for solace and comfort when scared or upset) when I felt like the Universe might actually hate me. I even went so far as to convince myself that I was cursed. Slightly paranoid, perhaps, (superstitions long-harboured fuelling my rumination) but real enough nevertheless.
What happened..? I turned thirty, reaching a place I had never considered: somewhere so far off, so far away, I naively thought I would frolic in front of it for eternity. Somewhere I somehow managed to convince myself would betray me if I ever so much as touched it. A place that I couldn’t see beyond, because it had nothing to offer me: no hope, no joy, no love, no growth; only ageing, dying and death.
I’m not sure where this belief originated, or why it was so strong. And I don’t much like rewinding myself towards it. But it deserves a mention every once in a while, because it was very real and it lasted a long time. Fed by a string of events that stole each and every rug; rendering, as they did so, my beloved house bare: I went from whole to incomplete, solid to broken, losing valued and vital ingredients.
In the course of that three years, I lost my soulmate, my closest friend, my partner and my grandmother, who also happened to be my mentor and my muse. My life tilted; the ground gave way and, dislodged, I fell: down, down and down. I think, perhaps, I am still falling.
As I attempt to collect myself and navigate my last few days (days I am sure you are by now well and truly bored of, so often have I mentioned them), I am looking for ways to ground myself: favourite places, collected friends, walks along the seafront, drives in the sun, mornings sitting outside as much and as often as possible; afternoons meditating, practicing Reiki and self-hypnosis; industrious evenings, my hands foolishly kidding themselves that if they refuse to pause or slow, they might actually manage to tie up all loose ends before the boxes, part-packed, have to be sealed and delivered to the waiting ship.
The notion that home might be somewhere I can harbour inside is therefore one that appeals, my implacable itch provoking a constant need to move – travelling, seeing, experiencing… all the world has to offer. I want to soak up what I have for so long denied, refilling my heart, reigniting my spirit, rescuing and repairing my soul. Maybe my own lack – the inability to feel anything close to full, whole or complete – fuels this? Or maybe it’s something more? Something that’s in my DNA?
I have moved many times over the course of my life: from my childhood home to school; from my school to university; from my university to London; around London and then out to the country, a place I hated. Bored, depressed, fed-up (with the cold and the isolation; the separation – from people, activity, entertainment, etc.), I determined to move, succeeding in just over a year.
I landed in Mallorca, a place I had never given much thought to or considered a possibility as an abode and it was quick to get under my skin. I fell in love: with it’s architecture, it’s history, it’s landscape… Then, as always intended but nevertheless too soon, we were off, travelling to opposing coordinates.
Sydney was slower: a lot, initially, to take in. Far away and upside down, it was different in every way possible, and yet it was also exactly the same – only Burger King was called Hungry Jacks, Cafe Nero was Gloria Jean’s and John Lewis was David Jones. It confused… It also arrived in bits.
We (being me and my partner) spent a month in a hotel – challenging and not nearly as luxurious as it sounds. Think noisy guests, repetitive meals, expensive broadband and limited TV. Picture windows that don’t open, showers that run cold, a wardrobe with a safe instead of coat hangers and a maid who keeps moving your things. In addition, it didn’t have a pool, the bar area was impersonal and it was full of salesmen. It was a far cry from what I had imagined.
Followed by a week in an apartment with an exceptional view, all ocean and ship. Sadly, the interior had a lot less to recommend it. I wore shoes everywhere, even in the bathroom. And I didn’t sit on the sofa once, not without putting a blanket down. My only victory (and even that was double-edged) was my dog. Having just come out of quarantine, she was (to put it delicately) overwhelmed.
After that, there was more stability and we spent ten months in a Tibetan-styled house – perhaps the nicest place I have ever lived. I even got used to the giant cockroaches that ran across the floor, vanishing before you could catch them, and the fist-sized spiders that clung to the trees in large funnelled webs.
Then holes appeared (politics in the workplace, recession-led redundancies, an economy in crisis, the elimination of certain vital Expat-assisted living funds…) and suddenly we were in suitcases returning to Europe for what ought to have been but wasn’t ‘a brief rest’, a quiet licking before picking up and rising above.
Two years older; two years wiser; two years more bitter, angry and hurt (we stayed here, breaking promises – amongst other things): I am about to move again, only this time the moving is backwards. And it doesn’t matter how often I am told that it isn’t, or how earnestly I am urged to believe that it is temporary – a break, a blip, an interlude… I can’t quite attach any enthusiasm to it. The result: me struggling, thoughts unravelling, all snag and tattered thread.
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