This is Home

I've been thinking a lot about the concept of 'home' recently. It started way back in March when I flew back to Boston from Japan. Catching the bus back into town from the airport I was suddenly struck by the realisation that, although I was going back to my 'house', I didn't feel like I was returning 'home'. The realisation that I was 'home-less', in the most literal definition of the word, was not the liberating experience one might think and has since prompted many discussions with friends about concepts of 'home' and what home means to them.

I think I first became aware of the difference between 'house' and 'home' when I finally moved out of my parents house after university. Gradually over a period of months 'home' moved from Mum and Dads to Carlton and then North Melbourne. Their house, my old home, slowly became "mum and dads". It's a transition that I am sure everyone goes through, and for me, the switch from saying "going home" to "going to mum and dads" was as much for simplicity and to prevent confusion than anything else. But the change was none-the-less significant.

Moving to Boston, 'home' took on a new meaning that, more-or-less, encompassed the whole of Australia, rather than one city, or even a house. For the people that I spoke with it became a vague concept of a landmass straddling the Indian and Pacific Oceans. And for me it also changed. For the first time 'home', my home, had no physical structure but became a tangled web of people, places and smells. Home was Sunday dinner, good coffee, Brunswick Street, summer, trams, talking nephews and pregnant friends. But it was only after the bus ride back into Boston that I became consciously aware of the difference between 'house' and 'home'.

With all this thinking about house and home and having just moved into a new place in Botswana I was really surprised to come across this site today. This is home is a project by Christa and Jen which is documenting exactly this idea - what does home mean to you? They write:

If home is where the heart is, where is yours? A visual exploration of the
concept of 'home,' across continents, oceans and neighborhoods.

Until the 28th of August they are collecting phrases and images of what home means to you. At the end of the month they will compile readers favourites into a series of postcards. Head over to their site and check out some of the submissions already made. I'm also interested in what 'home' means to you, leave your comments below.

This is my new house, definitely not yet my 'home'. :)

1 comment:

Clare said...

Hi Clare, very interesting thoughts on home. A subject very close to my heart. I have always had a strong sense of home, starting from my first separation: boarding school from age 14. Home was a very strong feeling of loss and longing, I was terribly homesick for the first few years. Even after moving to halls of residence at university, and later sharehouses, home was still most definitely Mum and Dad's home; the town where I grew up. Even when living as a real grown up with my partner in our own place, I still referred to 'going home' for the weekend - to Mum and Dad's place, but I did feel more of a sense of home in relation to our appartment in Melbourne. I seemed to have retained that persisting feeling of dichotomy - 'home' in one sense as the home where I live with Shane and go to work, as well as 'home' as my sanctuary/retreat; parents' home and childhood house, where some of my belongings are still stored.
Moving to the UK has been interesting from this perspective, like you, 'home' is Australia and Melbourne in general, but as I don't have a place of my own there, it is, in my mind, specifically, my parent's home. When British people ask me where I'm from (after they've guessed New Zealand) I say 'Melbourne', for simplicity as much as anything else. When I say 'home' in reference to the UK, I mean our flat where I live with Shane, which I was surprised to find does really feel like 'home'; I was flooded with a sense of belonging and 'homeness' when I recently returned to London from a trip 'home' to Australia - I had thought the opposite would be true, but my heart is in London :)