When you’re continually building homes in new cities and towns across the world, how do you GO home?
T.S.Eliot famously said
“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”.
Well, Thomas, I think you’re into something.
I thought I knew my little town in North Wales. Nay, I thought I knew North Wales completely. I had lived in the same house in a town that had barely changed for 19 years before moving away for uni. When you have a firm foundation somewhere I think it’s pretty easy to take it for granted and for me this couldn’t be more true. As I mentioned in my Project Veggie Garden post, leaving really makes you appreciate going home.
Which is great! North Wales will always be there but what about the home I’ve made for myself in Sydney? What about when I move on from there and make my next temporary but (hopefully) just as treasured home in Melbourne or Brisbane or Hong Kong or London or Paris or wherever I get the wanderlust to explore next?
I know from experience that it’s hard to leave. Rather than travelling to a lot of different places I tend to move to an area for a longer period of time and really immerse myself in the culture. It’s why I became an au pair and I miss Cardiff and South Tyrol and Ghent and Sydney so much. I miss Broome already and I haven’t even left yet.
It won’t surprise you to learn that it’s the people as much as the place that leave me pining for my Other Homes. Making friends with Duckie and naming the chickens at The Mango Place; having a favourite breakfast spot and seeing a familiar face on the train ride home; grabbing coffee in between jobs and having the barista ask if it’s ‘the usual’? They all make a home. It doesn’t matter if it’s two months, ten months, three years. You have people to see and places to go and small seemingly insignificant things to miss once you’ve left, like the beautiful birdcage art installation in Angel Place.
I have been looking forward to going dancing in Sydney for so long now. I can’t wait for dinner with Debbie and our dear friend at a new hidden foodie heaven and we’ll drink wine and talk about how we miss our other friends who have moved on now. We leave in two weeks, but I know I’ll miss this place so much. The perpetual sunshine, the small town hippy vibe, the wildlife, the beautiful birds, the distinctly unique Bush, the tin can home where we sat and watched each others favourite movies.
When I’m anonymous in transit in Sydney I’ll miss the familiar faces I saw every morning here but I’ll be thrilled to be back in our city.
Then, three months after, we’ll be flying back to the UK and seeing our original home. Debbie will see North Wales and I will see Derby and we’ll understand our roots and reconnect with our families and old friends. I’m already excited. Then we’ll head back to Sydney again for a short time before packing up and starting afresh in a new Aussie city.
And why are we starting afresh if we love Sydney so much? Because there’s so much to see and there’s beauty to be found in every place.
I guess this doesn’t really answer the questions of ‘How do you go home?’ but that is
a) because I tend to veer off from the subject;
b) because I just don’t know.
In fact, I’m not even sure if you can. Because as good old T.S.Eliot said, you’ll know the place for the first time.
Exploration, whether it is spiritual, emotional, physical or all the other possibilities, changes you. That’s the whole point. Even if your conclusion is to confirm you really are the person you thought you were, you will have changed in more ways than you can recognise. And we should never stop exploring. We should never be content and decide ‘That’s it, I’m done, this is fine.’ because even if you’re not the travelling type, being able to learn new things and experience new feelings and build new relationships is a privilege which I hope everybody makes the most of.