2015 was a whirlwind for me. Budget airlines and overnight buses can pretty much sum it up. Since arriving back home to Sydney I’ve been constantly asking myself the question, where is “home”?
I began my love affair with travelling from an extremely young age. It is one of the few issues that my Mother and I can agree on. My first passport photo was a baby photo and if I’m being honest, I can’t remember the majority of the stories behind the stamps within it. With each passport my memories get stronger, as does my clichéd revelation that home is where the heart is. My current passport holds by far the most importance to me.
I received it in late January of last year, just one month before I would embark on the 40 hour transit to Colombia, alone. In the last two years since having my passport it has been used to take me to South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania and most recently, Africa. I have literally spent more time out of Australia than in. I have felt experiences and made friends that I will never be able to forget, even if I tried.
Now I’m not saying that I want to forget my last minute escapades, unexpected friendships or the hours upon hours spent lying in the sun doing absolutely bloody nothing. I love travelling. I sincerely cannot imagine who I would have become had I not experienced the glory that is cheap meals, grocery store bought alcohol and maximum capacity hostel dorms.. But as wonderful as these experiences have been, they have also left me confused and nervous. I will be the first to admit that I am scared to settle down. I literally stood in a mobile phone store for over an hour contemplating whether or not I should sign up for a 2 year contract for my phone. I needed a new phone at the time and the deal on offer was great, but I was scared. In my mind that signature meant more than just the $960AUD. To me, that signature was the acknowledgement that I was going to commit to staying in Australia for at least the next two years.
“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, I told him, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”
– Azar Nafisi
That quote holds more significance to me than I’d like to admit. The beauty of experiencing the world is that you are constantly developing as a person, learning more about yourself: what ticks you off and what gets you going. Where your passions lie and what is no longer working for you. Every time I leave a place that has held significance to me, I feel like I will never be the same person again. Whether I was there for 3 days or 3 months, if it is a place that has helped me discover more about myself then I will feel this strange sensation when the day comes that I must part ways with it. The sensation that this place is my home and that I will never be in this same state ever again. Sure, I can come back to visit again in a few years time but it will not be the same for I would have experienced more and I would therefore be a ‘different’ person.
It’s a confusing concept and it’s close to impossible to explain to people who have not experienced it. I feel as though I am trying to have a complex conversation in a language I only have basic knowledge of. I know exactly what I want to convey and I know roughly which words to use, but I don’t have a clue where to start.
.. But I’m going to give it my best shot:
Home is where the heart is. Home is where you feel like you have a family to go back to and spend time with; they do not necessarily have to be related by blood, nationality or even experiences. They will share similar values and/or be open to healthy discussions if and when values do not quite align. Home is where there are no worries. Home is where you can be yourself. You won’t have to work up a facade, there is no judgement nor pressure to conform. Home is where there is no stress. Things will still go wrong, shops will still close before you’ve done your rounds, visas will still be denied and sleepless nights will still be very real. But against all odds, home will not be stressful. Home is where you are happy.