The meaning of the word home, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary reads
: one’s place of residence : the social unit formed by a family living together : a familiar or usual setting : congenial environment; also : the focus of one’s domestic attention : a place of origin : an establishment providing residence and care for people with special needs
Each on it’s own and all of these descriptions together, are hardly enough to elucidate the wholeness of this simple, rich word.
A subject of keen interest over many a dinner table conversations – what is home – we often ask ourselves, ask each other. for the past few years R and I have been on the move. A lot. Intercontinental living, long spells apart, him there, me here with our puppies – time here dotted with work related travel now and then. Away, here, here and away.
Home. Such a simple word exuding all kinds of warmth, old fashioned romance and comfort. And the more I think about it and the way our lives have panned out, the more I am convinced that it is an emotional response more than it is a structure with walls, pretty furniture and all. Of course, the structure is a basic need but home is the feeling that breathes life into walls and hearts. I couldn’t be more convinced of that fact as I am now. I write this post sitting in a lovely house in a city that I also like to call home, somewhat atleast. I am at home, here, now, this fleeting moment. Yesterday though, all of this felt distant for a place without my pups felt less of a home. But so does waking up without him next to me every so often back in the other home. So then, what and where is home ?Is it that place filled with aromas of gentle spices, warm rain and doggie odours, where my books and museum of well loved things and memories reside ? Is it here in this silence and the company of dew lined swaying trees that I’m so savouring ? I know I will feel at home as I sip that the glass of wine with him this evening over daily chatter, laughs, and a warm meal he is to cook for us. I always do. Or will home be waiting for me when I go back to my puppies in a few weeks ? some sunday mornings, home is simply sitting and chatting away with my mom and dad at the kitchen table, in their oasis home outside the city, waiting for hot dosas to arrive magically at my plate (which they do) and stealing quick treats to extremely well fed dogs loitering restlessly at my foot in the buzz of my mom’s kitchen. Home is the place where I laugh and gossip with my dearest friends over freely flowing potions and food, revelling in the warmth of my chosen family. And before long, I will want to wander far away from everything familiar to find where I belong. To my beloved mountains, perhaps. Home, is all of these things, each of these, an amalgam of these. Home, well it just is. The constant cocoon, the unraveling core where all of these flow from (the ever contradicting joker in me pops up and asks me if I’m kidding as I write this, home is home, the little devil says, so go back to your pups and the smelly studio couch where you are so not welcome !)
The devil aside, I am aware of how greatly my sense of home has changed and evolved over the past decade. From a girl who definitively thought of a house as a home to someone finding home in so many things, in nothing. oh, I do love the idea of a nicely made house filled with well loved art and simple well worn essentials. home, though is a state I’m increasingly sure I can conjure or find wherever I go. In the familiar, the unfamiliar, in a person, a dog, engulfed in the delicious hot shower in a hotel room after a long day’s work. And I would argue that the rasam, rice and spicy omelettes feel like heaven here in san francisco than they ever did anywhere else. That, my friends, counts for home !
While living between cities is incredibly gratifying, it is also comes with it’s own set of “displacement” type issues (no, not at all complain worthy), which do needle you further out of the comfortable PJ zone and onto a traveler’s path – that is at once, internal and external. You tend to belong and un-belong at the same time. Another self emerges – or a better self, a parallel self – an interrogator, an aggregator who takes stock, takes to task most of the learnings and ways that have seemed perfectly acceptable thus far and trashes them in favour of richer and more expansive pastures to lost in and then, finally find home. the bitter sweet lessons of learning while wandering. And one of them is this – how to find home.
Right now, I am away from one home but in another, I’m sipping tea with lemon and honey thinking about the evening, how my pups are doing, my sister is on my mind. I have a doctor’s appointment to keep, my calendar says, and I withdraw with a jolt momentarily. My Yogi has been a lot my mind lately, more than usual. He taught us much about home, in fact he was key. Home used to be those days when he and his daddy used to take long walks in the mountain mist and I’d just look on and feel so utterly content. Home. That was enough. His death I suspect tore me apart more than I could imagine. It has opened up new soul frontiers that I’m afraid to venture into yet. I know it will pass and so I’m also nudging myself: gently telling myself to stay centered for I have (very procrastinated) work piled up awaiting some dedicated immersion. Catching up with a clear head is going to be hard given some tough difficult days that have gone by thanks to an illness, a condition that comes and goes.
For now, I’m going to pop over to the home-y coffee shop nearby for a bit of a change and a healthy caffeine buzz :)
My next post is a cheat sheet to San Francisco followed by a travel story on Mexico, all happy stuff, so come by soon !
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.”
― Robert Frost