It recently clocked to me that I have been away from home for a solid 80 days. Note: when I reference home in this post, I’m referring to Sheffield.
Technically, I’ve not been home for most of 2022.
Since my first trip in March, I’ve never spent longer than 2 months at home. Even when I was back in the UK, I wandered around the country. For instance, I spent over a month down south in London and Cornwall in the summer and as a proud Northerner, this was extremely surprising for me. 😮
Perhaps my active avoidance of home was my attempt to run away from being hurt by past memories that I expected would swallow me whole. Spoiler alert: I learned that running away didn’t do much apart from delaying the inevitable pain. It hurt either way. 🤷 Once I got home, I took time to mourn the old life I had and then focused on putting myself back together, with the mission to design my new life.
I had spent two years in my small box apartment in a city which in hindsight, I didn’t even like. When I share this with others, they ask me, why did I stay for so long? My answer always boils down to three reasons: I stayed for work, I stayed for pockets of meaningful community I discovered, and I stayed for love. These all changed quicker than I expected so my purpose of living there no longer made any sense.
Breaking out of that box took more courage than I thought I had, but it was what I needed. Solo-travelling to seven countries, and fourteen cities, staying in a bunch of hotels, Airbnbs and friends’ spare rooms and living from my 40L backpack, gave me a level of freedom that was missing in my life these past few years.
Not only have I seen beautiful places, but I’ve also connected with different types of people from all walks of life. When the question, “are you happy?” pops up, I always reply with the biggest smile on my face, “more than ever.” 😁
I could write a book with details of my adventures and the learnings that come with it… Maybe I will one day once I’ve processed it all. (Or maybe, I’ve already started it! Who knows? 🤪)
All this time I’ve been having too much fun living life all over again that I haven’t had the chance to miss home.
I’m not sure what has triggered this random wave of homesickness, but I’ve spent way too much brain power to try and find out 1️⃣ why I feel it now and 2️⃣ solutions to combat it. Writing this blog post is definitely one outlet.
Is it just this time of year with the upcoming holidays? Is it simply because I haven’t been home for a while? Whatever it is, the feeling has lingered far too long in the last week or so.
In my attempt to decode my intense emotions, I found myself digging even deeper to figure out the answers to some important life questions.
But what is home? Where is home? Is home a location? Where you have spent the most time in your life? What other things make you feel like you’re at home?
When I searched for the answer, the theme of having a physical place came up a lot:
the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.Oxford Dictionary
Home is a place blessed, where you and your family can be secure, have all you need, and share your sadness and happiness.Habit for Humanity – What does home mean to you?
“Home” comes from the Proto-Germanic khaim, which differed from the meaning of “house” in those times as it does today. The khaim, or ham, as it traveled into Old English, meant a residence as opposed to simply a shelter.Word Origins – Naming House and Home
Home is a safe haven and a comfort zone. A place to live with our families and pets and enjoy with friends. A place to build memories as well as a way to build future wealth. A place where we can truly just be ourselves. And whether our houses are big, small, fancy or modest, they are our shelters and our sanctuaries.Habit for Humanity – What does home mean to you?
By these definitions, the UK is my home. 🇬🇧
Sheffield and Leeds were places I lived for long periods of my life, where I grew up and established several communities and where my longest relationships are. 🇵🇭 The Philippines is also home for me; albeit a looser connection but is still a connection.
And now, Greece…
Greece was “just another nomad destination” that I had on my list this year to revisit, but it is the place that gave me the most unexpected, intense feeling of home. Of course, I tried to unpack it. How did Greece start feeling like home?
According to the definitions above, home is where you feel safety, stability, and comfort which doesn’t necessarily translate to a physical place.
In my clearly very scientific research 😇, the next place I look for answers is from music because of how expressive they often are. These are some lyrics from songs that talk about what home is:
Oh, home, let me come homeEdward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home
Home is wherever I’m with you
I’m coming home (I’m coming home)HONNE – Coming Home
There’s nowhere else I’d rather go
My location unknownHONNE – Location Unknown
Tryna find a way back home
To you again
Country roadsJohn Denver – Take Me Home
Take me home
To the place I belong
Baby, baby, babyLeon Bridges – Coming Home
I’m coming home
To your tender sweet loving
Further in this rabbit hole, who is this person that every single one of these songs talks about? Because… my first point is let me meet them. 😆 And for my more serious second point: Whoever this special person (or group of people or community) is in our lives throws the physical definition of what home is out of the window.
It’s funny to think about how I almost bought my first house with my ex-partner earlier in the year. I had thought of how every room would look to feel as homely as possible, but in that situation, I no longer felt at home with them. Today, I’ve felt at home elsewhere without the safety that four walls bring.
So where is home? Home isn’t just a physical place where you live. You can carry that feeling of home with you, anywhere in the world. This feeling of “being at home” has been created by people that I’ve met because of the level of safety, stability, and comfort they bring me.
Yesterday, I finally booked my return flight to the UK and naturally, a wave of various emotions washed over me. 🌊
I know that I’ll enjoy being back where my home is i.e. the place I spent the biggest portion of my life in.
I know that I’ll also miss the home I’ve created here.
I also know that this feeling of home can be created anywhere, maybe all slightly different variations and depths with entirely normal levels of homesickness that may develop.
…So, where is home? I know there’s some proverb for it…and perhaps yet another song.
Home is where the heart isThe saying ‘Home is where the heart is’ – meaning and origin.
…And my heart, as far as I know, is integrated deeply into my body. 😝
Home is where I have developed deeply meaningful relationships and where my heart is. And at the end of the day, aren’t these relationships a big reason to be alive? ✨