Home, for me at least, has always been something of a baffling concept. At 18, I left the safety of my Aberdeenshire village for the bright lights of Norwich city – it’s ok, you can laugh – and discovered what it is to be rootless.
Whilst at university, I would talk to friends about ‘going home’ to Scotland, and even look forward to that ever-arduous trip up the road. When I finally reached this much longed-for destination though, and when conversation turned in that direction, I would always stress that I would, in fact, be ‘going home’ to Norwich any day.
Home, for me then, appears to be wherever I am not.
Perhaps the distance I put between myself and my family when I left Aberdeenshire forced me to create two parallel lives – one as a very appreciative daughter, and one as the girl on Onley Street who could feed thirty people at the drop of a hat. Perhaps it’s just the drifter in me, constantly looking for something other, something more. Either way, this duality, this need to reach a home that doesn’t actually exist in any context other than the journey, continues to pull me from place to place and I find myself now not only longing for Scotland, but also for the life I once lived in Norwich.
And yet, as I’m drawn towards both the north and the east, I find myself increasingly comfortable where I am. Surrounded by the things I’ve gathered – the inherited furniture, the well-read books, S-‘s collection of cables and speakers – I’m coming to feel that part of these places are with me regardless. I know it’s ridiculous to put so much stock in things, but everything I own and keep is tied to a certain person, a certain part of my life. Is this home? The small cocoon of memories which I build around myself*?
And if this is true, it explains a lot. I’ve been working with people who have Dementia over the last few days and the one thing they all seem to have a very good idea of is that fact that they are not home. Their things are not in the hospital, the markers of their lives are not scattered around and things given to them by people they love who are no longer there can not offer solace. When the word home is said anywhere on the ward, people who wouldn’t even respond to their own name perk up. It is an incredibly powerful concept.
I haven’t decided yet where my home is, or if it’s even something you can decide. Whether I move my things to the north, to the east or to the next village over is something for future-frankiesoup to decide. For now though, I am content to let the journey be my home. I know that ‘may you have an interesting life’ is a curse in some cultures, but it’s certainly a blessing to me. Roots are all well and good, but for now I’m perfectly content without them.
And perhaps I have it all wrong. Perhaps home isn’t even a place. Afterall, I have never been so content as when all of my friends and family were crammed into my parents’ house for my wedding. Perhaps it’s that feeling of total love, of kinship and of peace which makes a home exactly that. And with all the people I love scattered through not only this, but many other countries, I think the journey may be my home for a long, long time to come.
My Scotland home, from the top of Bennachie
My Suffolk home, from the drive.
A view to Onley Street, my Norwich home
*I realise I’m getting a bit overtly poetic here – I don’t mean to. Worryingly though, this is how I think… all the time.