There are some moments in life that, forever, hold a special place in our hearts. Sliding door situations that change the trajectory of it, but at the time, you don’t quite realise the magnitude.
I love unravelling the outcome of decisions, with the perspective of hindsight. One very memorable decision for me my the choice to move to Bali with my best friend.
If our flight didn’t get cancelled, we wouldn’t have had extra time in Bali that persuaded us to move there.
If I didn’t have my best friend to do it with, would I have had the courage?
If I didn’t go to Bali, I wouldn’t have proved it to myself that this was, in fact, the lifestyle I wanted.
If I didn’t have the most fulfilling experience, maybe I wouldn’t have continued.
I wouldn’t be writing my book.
And I wouldn’t have discovered what it feels like to ultimately find a place that charges me, inspires yet challenges, and is the catalyst for growth.
That place is New York.
I’ve spent close to two years here now, off and on, and it’s beginning to feel like home. So much so, I’m starting to belong. I still get that same feeling, of infinite possibility, when I walk in those famous New York neighbourhoods, but that detached sense is fading. I’m feeling less and less like an outsider.
The connection between home, place & memory.
Given that memories are the architecture of our identities, do we ever really feel at home in a place that doesn’t connect to our past? No matter how much we love living somewhere, does it ever quite create that sense of belonging or are we always a little detached?
And more importantly, should it take the lead, in terms of places that mean the most to us? Can both share centre stage and continue to craft our identities?
I’ve observed my hesitance to go all-in here in New York, fearing that if I do, I’ll “lose” the life I’ve built at home. And I know I’m not alone in feeling like this. Many of us expats talk about yearning for home. But what does home really embody?
Theorists have many different definitions for home. I like Storti’s take on it. He talks about ‘home’ and its comforts being replaced by more than just a physical place that we live. Rather, home transforms into something that’s associated with the people, actions, feelings, emotions and cues that make us feel ‘at home.’
“The essence of home can be described in three elements: familiar places, familiar people and routines, and predictable patterns of interaction.”
Places, people, routines and habits.
The longer we spend in a place, the more people we connect to, and routines we form.
I’m starting to believe that home isn’t anything more than a social construct. For travellers, home exists in our minds and hearts. We’re on a perpetual journey to actualise it for ourselves. Attachment happens over time, mainly due to the embodiment of memories. As these memories accumulate, so does the significance of the ‘home.’
But what I’m learning is that home is us. We are our home. And while memories help form our identities, they don’t necessarily imply our home. Or that we just have to have one physical home.
We live in our homes within us.