When I arrived in Paris, the acquaintance with whom I was staying apologized for his sparse apartment; he’s going through a transition and doesn’t have very much stuff right now. I pointed at the bags I’d placed on the floor a few minutes earlier and said that I understood. He replied, knowingly, “That’s your home.”
I’ve been thinking about the concept of home quite a bit recently; it was hard not to after I closed the door to my Brooklyn apartment one final time. I hadn’t – and still haven’t – signed a lease on a new flat; all I’ve got for the foreseeable future are friends’ couches, hostel beds, and the two carry-on bags referenced in my bio below. It’s an interesting place to be.
For years, I’ve been the type of person who will refer to wherever I’m sleeping that night as home. I remember being on a trip – to Paris, in fact – in high school, and when other people would say something about returning to the hotel, it was just “going home” in my mind. At the time, I thought that I phrased things that way for the sake of being concise; however, as I look back, I think there’s more to it than that.
That trip to France at age 15 marked my first time on an airplane, as well as my first trip abroad. (Other than to Canada. And actually, when my family visited Ontario, we didn’t need passports to go. In other words, it doesn’t count.) I knew from the moment I set foot on the streets of Paris – well, except for an unfortunate incident involving a croque monsieur, which did not taste delicious when I was feeling nauseated and jetlagged – that I wanted to visit more places. A lot more. In fact, I wanted to be a fancy international businesswoman so that I could traipse all of the world and get paid to do it.
I’d caught the travel bug.
Though that initial dream of corporate-funded globetrotting never really materialized, I became a traveler. My mom even started calling me her little nomad. Since that first time in another country in 1997, I’ve lived* in 16 places and crashed in countless others – hotel rooms, hostels, friends’ apartments, camps, farms, etc. Each of those has been home in my mind, even if only for a night. I’m happy that I developed that perspective, because without it, I think it would be very difficult to take this trip.
We all hear from a young age that “home is where the heart is.” I wasn’t sure until now whether that was true for me. I mean, if that quote is correct, shouldn’t my heart be with my family, or best friends, or…something invariable?
And then it hit me this morning: that is exactly where my heart is. It’s on the road, with my loved ones scattered around the globe. It’s in cities where I found inspiration and new life. It’s in experiences shared with friends and family, in meals and memories. Home is transient because I am, and my heart is with me as I go.
What makes somewhere home for you?
*In this instance, I’m defining places I’ve lived as anywhere I’ve paid rent (dorm rooms included) or houses where I’ve stayed rent-free for more than one month.