WHERE IS YOUR HOME?
- Steven in transit, 1985
“Where are you from?”
This question gets tossed around guesthouses, bars, bus stations and just about anywhere else people with unfamiliar faces and accents congregate. I’ve answered it so many times that I sometimes lie just to keep myself from walking away.
However, someone recently asked me a more poignant question:
“Where is your home?”
Instinctually, that question should also be an easy one. Everyone needs an address. It’s 2013. Humans no longer chase deer across continents.
But I couldn’t answer it.
Since the first time I read it at 16, I have always remembered Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again: “You can’t go back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time.” Surely, home must be able to evolve with you for it to not just be merely a memory, or a hinderance.
For me, home is ephemeral. It may be found family, friends, someone special or all by myself (when things are productive and stimulating enough), wherever it may be that I lay my head. There may even be some pilots that consider the Dallas airport to be home. And why not?
Is someone who has no place to go home to truly the most lost? Or is it the opposite?
Paradoxically, travel can better help us appreciate the places we come from. James Joyce generally only wrote about Dublin. For inspiration, his mind rarely left that small city. However, he spent most of his adult life abroad, even writing Ulysses in Paris. Often, travel allows for the opportunity to over romanticize our home and hometown. Enjoy that, and try to document it if you can.
Maybe home cannot be found until you have children of your own and can relate to them as they grow.
For the traveler, there is always something on the horizon. David Bowie’s most haunting lyric for me has always come from his eerie 1979 song “Move On”, recorded over sessions in three countries in a backwards time signature.
“Somewhere there’s a morning sky, bluer than her eyes / I would love to find you, somewhere in a place I pass”
The blue eyes and skies that he is referring to can draw us in both directions.