It is October and the cold is calling me home. Over the last few weeks, I have spent long periods of time reflecting on what home means to me only to discover that my definition was greatly centered on people. In the past, I liked the poetry of people referring to others as home, but the more I have lived the more I have become aware of the danger of such an ideology.
Given that people are not places or property, I questioned why and how I could still hold onto my flawed concept of home. I realized that although I mentally and morally opposed the idea of perceiving a person as home, I was spiritually attached to that way of thinking as means of survival.
I am a migrant and I often joke with people that I have moved more than I have stayed. My movement has compromised my stability and my relationship with land. This, in part, influenced my subconscious draw to look to people to anchor me.
I realized that even though I outgrew the idea of a home being a house I still held onto the idea home being stagnant. I found comfort in thinking that amid the hectic-nature of my life that there was something still and waiting. I had to be honest with myself in order to realize how selfish it was to look at people like they were home. It is strange to consider that even though I was changing, I wanted a constant – something that people can never be.
It takes a lot of introspective thought to realize that you may view people in this way, but if you break down some of the things you expect from particular people you may realize that you are using language that resembles what people would use to describe a house – sounds weird, I know, but it’s real.
As I write this I am thinking of mothers who are told that they are their baby’s first home and then are made to feel like they can never stop being pregnant with their children. Who are made to feel like they must tailor their entire existence around motherhood.
I am thinking of the times where I have felt like I had to be home for someone else and the ways that attempting to assume that role made me suffer.
I have always believed that love is liberation, but what good is belief if it does not transform thought? What good is thought if it does not transform action? What good is action if it does not transform the being?
Guided by these questions, I am re-working my old definition of home. I am taking what I desire and leaving what is harmful.
And I realize that what I truly desire is an exhale.
Although this exhale can happen with particular people, I cannot survive if my breath is dependent on them.
I am learning to be ok with home moving from the physical to abstract world. And the more I get used to the abstraction of home as a feeling the more I experience it.
The process of dismantling this definition means honoring the difference in my journey and the journeys of those around me – even if they are moving out of my life. I believe that this process will help me understand absence and change this holiday season and beyond. I want to see if this new definition survives when I am in the presence of particular people that I once saw as home. I want to be aware of how my feelings struggle. I want to notice which feelings die – which feelings win.
This, like most other things, is an experiment.
This process will also help me better appreciate presence. The presence of others who are not ‘home’, but encourage me to feel it.
The beauty of perceiving home as living beyond walls and bodies is that you remain open to its unexpected arrival. An arrival for those of us who are in a long-distance relationship with our native land and closest loved ones would welcome right…now.