The other day the hubster and I had a… let’s call it a disagreement, about the use of the term home.
It’s a fairly inoucuous term in itself. A small word, meaning “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household”.
The disagreement came about because I referred going to Plymouth as going ‘Home’. He was upset by this as, in his opinion, where we live now, leafy Surrey, is home. Plymouth isn’t and therefore should not be referred to as such. It makes technical sense I guess. It is factually correct. We do live here. We haven’t lived there since the late 90s. So, yes, in that way, Plymouth is not Home.
But this really bothered me. This black and white thinking. This ‘this is this, that isn’t’ mentality. What really was the issue here? I mean I’ve just always called wherever I feel comfortable home. Hell, I’ve called wherever I’m living or even staying at the time, Home. For as long as I can remember. So like, if I was to go on holiday (😂👏🏻) and we were to go out for the day, I wanted to ask if we should head back to the hotel, I’d refer to the hotel as Home. I just would. I wouldn’t mean anything by it.
I thought other people did this, but it turns out not. At least not my husband and it also explains why my mum was so angry at me for referring to university halls as Home, when I first moved to London.
To me it’s a word, a shorthand to communicate ‘the place you’re living’. It would seem I don’t place the same deep meaning on the word that other people do. That other people do enough to be offended when I don’t.
But why don’t I? Well, I guess I’ve moved about a bit in my life. Not as much as some I guess, but thirteen different places to call Home feels like a lot to me and posssibly offers up some explaination as to why the word has somehow lost its deep meaning to me that it hasn’t to others.
Thinking about it I’ve also technically (if we want to get technical about this) been homeless three times in my life. I’ve never needed to sleep on the streets thank god, but I have, at three times in my life, fallen into the category that the charity Crisis call the Hidden Homeless. I don’t think I realised at the time(s), partly because I was with people I loved, but I look back now and understand. This coupled with moving around so much, is it a wonder I have lost the connection some people have with the term they hold so dear?
And while we’re on the subject, I also really struggle when people, and they do, ask me where I’m “from”. It’s a perfectly innocent question after all. And I’ve never lived in another country (unless you count moving to Wales as emigrating 😉). But I have moved around so much, from such a young age and with such regularity, that no one answer feels authentic anymore.
And it wasn’t until having Oscar that I realised how much this has impacted me and my sense of identity. My sense of belonging, my sense of home.
I remember everywhere I’ve lived in. I carry them with me, no matter how little I realised that until recently. The first two homes I had were in the same county and until we left that county when I was twelve, that is where I was ‘from’. Then part of my fractured family moved to the other end of the country and suddenly this place, where I knew no one and nothing was now my home. What had come before was packed away and I stopped referring to it. The new place was now called Home. And despite moving many times since, because the majority of my strong ties are still there, I guess I still do. Even though in truth it doesn’t feel like it is. Or perhaps even ever did.
So the question might be, what is going to change that? If buying a house and having a baby all in one place isn’t enough to give you a deeper sense of what Home means, isn’t enough to make you give up calling everything else Home, then what the hell is?
But in reality does that matter? In today’s global society do we have to pin our colours to one home, to one house, to one town, to one…. place, just for the neatness of explaining yourself to someone when they ask so where are you from? After all where you live and where you’re from are two completely different things for a lot of people these days. Why should the answer have to be neat?
Maybe it’d just be enough to have those who love you, know and accept that you are going to call many places Home. And that’s unlikely to change.