It’s strange that I tend to be doing more philosophy now than I did in my spare time at university. All my thinking energy went on my modules and there was little energy left for personal reflection but lately, with more time on my hands, I have been able to ponder the things that are important to me. Anyone who knows me or has read here for a while knows the importance of the concept of ‘home’ in my life. I think I have more to add on the subject.
What is a home?
Is it the bricks and mortar? Is it the foundation? Is it the place it sits? The things that surround it? The people that fill the inside of the house? Is it a property or is it people? Is it a sense or a feeling or is it something fallible that I can touch with my hands?
Home was something I could not put my finger on for a while despite it being something that I so desperately wanted and I think that, within the first week of living in our shiny new and light and airy apartment, I finally understand what home is. At least, I understand what it is for me, personally.
Home is, in small part, a location. London is my home and I feel at home here wherever the borough might be. I know London, I understand London, it feels so different to anywhere else I have lived. But that is not enough for home. Because home is where you go when the day and evening is over.
I used to go ‘home’. I used the word to refer to a family house in Stourport and I used the word to refer to an incredibly temporary dorm room and I used the word to refer to a damp maisonette in the south west of London. The first and second felt homely. The third did not. I felt at home in a house that knew me well. Home is somewhere you feel safe and secure. Home is a strong front door and warmth inside and home is who you come home to.
I used to go home to a family. I was never homesick for the town I grew up in, nor was I homesick for the house in general terms. I was homesick for the big window of my bedroom that oversaw rambling fields. I was homesick for my cats purring and long walks with my dog in the forest that I knew like the back of my hand. I was homesick for the smell of my stepdad’s cooking and the sounds of the television I rarely watched. I was homesick for the sounds of my mum talking on the phone. I was homesick for family dinner time and I missed my family a lot.
Then I went home to flatmates. Some I loved, some I had little to do with. It was not coming home until my shoes were off in my bedroom and I could exhale and take a moment before finding people to do stuff with.
I realise, the more I get older, that home should not just be the house that you live in since, in a city that is always moving, I, too, must move with it. I will not be able to stay in one place for too long. I shall always have a short attention span and wish to move sooner than anyone can predict. I will always want to see more places and explore new things. Moving has become just as much a part of me as any other character trait and for a while I was confused and thought I needed to stay in one place to find home but I now realise that I don’t.
Home is habit. Home is safety. Home is feeling loved and secure. Home for me is in a person I fell instantly in love with and two gentle cats. Home is not this lovely house, though it does make me feel instantly at home. It is more than being clean and tidy and safe and secure. It is more than its transport links and its beautiful decor. It is in its quirks that I know now. It is in the way the sun shines directly through our bedroom window to wake us up every morning. It is in the way the cats follow me to the bathroom door in the morning. It is in the way I throw open the windows in the kitchen and lounge to embrace the fresh air as soon as I wake up. It is in the way I can feed the cats within the time it takes to boil the kettle. It is in the quiet hum of the traffic as I drink my morning coffee and sit three floors up in the open doorway looking out and feeling the sun soak into my warm skin. It is in the gentle padding across the floor as Adam wakes up and joins me. It is in the wooden pot we place our keys in and the bath that soothes my aches.
Home is wherever you know you will return and feel at ease. I have finally found a place where I unwind and live a little more slowly. I am more busy and more creative than I have ever been but I live more at ease. I take time to actually pause and enjoy my coffee, I walk slower, I smile for longer, I sleep better, I eat more, I explore every chance I get. I love it here. I found home.