I just realised that I’ve been focusing on the concept of ‘feeling at home’ for quite some time now. It started with an essay about The Help, in which I wrote about emotive homes and physical homes, terms I made up but seemed to resonate with my life. Living in Bath I didn’t feel like I’d closed off my Dutch life. I was half living in one world, half in the other. I had more than one home.
And it felt difficult to combine them, in my mind. This is because the notion of ‘home’ doesn’t just come with a house, it comes with certain obligations, habits, memories and a group of friends that needs nurturing and love. It is something I love doing; taking care of friends, discussing our lives and listening to their troubles, hopes and fears.
When your ‘home’ expands into multiple homes, your brain scatters a bit. I’ve become far less stressed and less of a planner, personally, but the downside is that I’m more chaotic now. I can’t keep up with everyone or remember all the events coming up in my friends’ lives. I can’t keep up with all the homes I feel at home in. I adapt more easily, but become more flighty. A bit of air has trickled into my way of handling things.
After Bath I realised I could no longer close the two homes. I couldn’t merge them back into one life, one place. There will always be a longing in the back of my mind, a longing to go to my other home. It’s too bad that that home doesn’t exist, physically. Bath, with all its obligations, habits and memories, and the group of great people there, will not exist as a home anymore. The people have scattered, back to their old homes across the world, and the feeling of ‘home’ stays. It’s rather bittersweet.
The thing that helps me regain that feeling of home, is visiting my friends from Bath. Somehow there’s no separation and we’re still linked. I feel incredibly at home with them because they ARE my memories of home. A place that, from now, will only exist within my mind.
You could say that I have multiple emotional homes, all clung to memories and feelings of homeliness I shared with people. Physically, I’m still searching for that new place that will be my home. That will be MY home. Where I’ll be a hundred per cent at home.
I’m scared that place does not exist.