Monday, July 22, 2013

toto, we're not in kansas anymore

during my usual sunday morning troll of the internet, i watched this wonderful TED talk by pico iyer on the subject of home:

as one who is by choice displaced, i often ponder what home means. quite often here on this very blog. i think that instead of getting easier to answer, the longer you are gone from home (your original home, the place of your birth), the more muddied the waters become. you begin to feel that place isn't home and this place, where you live and make your life and even find a lot of happiness, sometimes even on a daily basis, definitely isn't home either. and it leaves you all with what i like to call my mid-atlantic feeling (as in cast adrift in the middle of the atlantic, neither here nor there). and it is, as always, a lonely feeling, tho' it can also leave you feeling utterly unique and who doesn't, especially in their moments of private solipsism, want to feel unique, even if it unique in your own particular brand of lonely.

and so i struggle with notions of home. and making a home. and feeling at home. and maybe it's a normal state if 220 million of us are living outside the country of our birth, as iyer suggests. so maybe i should just lighten up and go with it. because this makes me sound like i'm unhappy and i'm far from that. i just don't really know if i know what home is in this age when so much is in flux. it's where you keep your important books, i thought at one time, but when our books now fit on an iPad, then home is wherever i find myself (provided i have my iPad with me) by that definition.

i suppose, as iyer says, i somehow do manage to stitch together a sense of home (and thus identity), from the various pieces i carry around inside me...where i was raised, where i live now, all of the places i have traveled, all of the experiences i've had, all of the memories i've created. i carry it all within me, no matter where i am. and my actual house is filled with things gathered on those travels...trinkets, statues, glassware, rugs, scarves, so it reflects that sense of home that i attempt to construct, almost unconsciously. and what is a home? a nest, a place to feel safe. a place to call your own. a place to house your important books. and i can't complain because i do have that, even if i couldn't have imagined how it would look and what it would be like, had you asked me to do that 20 years ago.

and so i muddle along, like so many others, constructing a life, a home, a family and filling it with deeds and memories.


will said...

You don’t have to be Mid-Atlantic to have those feelings. I spent my first 21 years in one place and one home. Since then I’ve lived in ten different cities and five different states. My original home/house was torn down and the area was developed into a subdivision. Even my high schools are gone. The town of my childhood is gone, replaced by development and an expanding population

The home of memory is elusive… in fact most memories are subjective. The way things were, that is, the actual objective reality of past places and events, especially when remembered through childhood eyes are typically distorted.

I miss my original home and the past no matter how subjective or romantic the memories are … but the “real” part of me knows those memories are not they way it actually was. No matter how many times I look at photos of that childhood home – it doesn’t exist and as with all memory-things, the past is unattainable.

Age does offer one significant value, that is, we gain perspective. I can now look back and see both the mistakes and successes subsequent to leaving home. What I cannot see is tomorrow and the effects of being either in this particular place or another. In that way, I’m the same as the kid who left home at age 21.

It’s difficult, but take pleasure, pride and solace in the now. It disappears much too quickly.

Veronica Roth said...

Nicely put Julie. I don't have a mid-Atlantic feeling, I have a feeling of multiple homes and no one is more important than another, like a true home base just doesn't exist for me. Maybe feeling "at home" almost anywhere, is a symptom of being forced out of my home country against my will; a displacement for something which can never be replaced/duplicated/given back.

hmm, loads to contemplate :)