“Home is where the heart is set in stone, is where you go when you’re alone, is where you go to rest your bones. It’s not just where you lay your head, it’s not just where you make your bed.”
I am feeling melancholic. This week my Dad moves out of the house that my family has lived in for almost 18 years. The plans for selling the house have been in place for a year, the actual sale happened over a month ago and now he is finally moving to his new place, not to far down the road. Although it has been a long time since I have actually lived in the house full time, it is still my home and embodies all my definitions for a place that is such.
Now I find myself in a paperwork situation where I am forced to change my ‘home’ address on things like passports, bank accounts and the like. If by home they mean, ‘place of permanent abode’, then they are out of luck. I have none. But if they mean ‘somewhere we can send your mail to’, then I can help them. I am changing all of my official addresses to my Mum’s address because someone of my name at least lives there but it brings me to think about the fact that I have spent more nights at certain hostels in Europe than I have at my Mum’s house. So in what way is it my ‘home?’
Mum does have boxes of my possessions in her garage, but so does the crew house in the Netherlands. And in both places I feel comfortable to wander around in my pyjamas, un-showered and barely woken (which counts for a lot when considering your ‘home’).
Mum’s house contains within it’s walls those people that I love and call family. But I could argue the same of Claire’s house in New York, or the O’Dwyers in Ireland.
And whilst I have been sleeping in my current bed for about 2 months and living within the walls day in and day out, I could not call it home in the most rounded of senses. I feel more relaxed at the Venice camp-site, or at Annie’s house than I do here. So time spent in a place does not necessarily count for much.
Thinking about this the other day, suddenly the above quoted song came on. In it Gabrielle Alpin argues that home is not even necessarily a place of 4 walls and a bed. That home can be a person. I would reason that it is a person that makes you feel grounded, who you can be relaxed with and who contains memories. If this is the case, then even more ‘homes’ exist for me around the world. How exciting to now think that Tom and Kathleen and Damian (amongst others) now all contain homes for me in their company.
I spoke to Tom saying that when the house was sold I would be truly homeless. His response? ‘Don’t give me that, you have more homes than I do. You could go and live in Ireland, in New York or with any number of your friends all over the world. You’ll never be homeless’. That was what really started me thinking on the matter.
And although I am still thinking sadly of my beautiful old house with it’s door documenting the growth patterns of our family, with its walls bearing the scars of where I removed posters with too much passion and with it’s familiar views out every window. It has also given me the chance to reflect on how lucky I am to have travelled and made friends and homes all over the world.