Home. A more fluid concept. I've been saying it for the last few months, but it occurs to me that home has been a fluid concept to me since I was a teenager.
I grew up in a family rich suburb, in a 'typical' family home - three bedrooms, big back yard and pets.
I stayed at home while I studied for a three year degree, it was the cheapest and easiest option.
My first stray was when I got my first job and I moved a couple of times, never staying longer than 18 months in one place. Home was still Mum & Dad's house, the place I grew up. We had family dinner every Sunday night.
In my mid-twenties I moved home. My job was driving me to depression and I was desperately saving money to go overseas. I knew I had home to fall back on and luckily my parents.
After a year I'd found a great new job and saving was less and less of an importance. It was at this point that my parents seperated and I was living at home - awkward! Mum moved out and I stayed another few years at home with Dad. Although, now home, was no longer the family home, but a home I shared with my new flatmate - my Dad.
Dad made a leap of great faith and moved to Auckland for greener pastures. Of course, this left me flatmates less and I got my best friend to move in. Now I was living in the home I had grown up in, but it wasn't the family home, but my home with my friend. We always knew that it wouldn't be forever, one (or hopefully both) of us was going to find someone and we'd move on. We would have lots of fun and enjoy our home while we had it.
Two and a half years later we moved out of the house. Dad made the tough decision to sell the home and we did so in just four weeks. We sold for a good price, but we had to be out in three weeks. Have you ever packed up 30 years of a families history and attic storage space? It's a nightmare, an absolute nightmare. I grieved for the loss of the house, the family home. The house was full of nearly 30 years of my life, my memories and my family, who were now scattered around the country and the world.
John and I moved into a quirky flat in a suburb much closer to the city. This time we knew it was for just a year. We had to sign a lease that long and while not quite ready then, John was going to move in with his girlfriend sooner rather than later. I unpacked my things, knowing that I'd be packing them up again in a years time. I'm not sure that I ever really settled there. I knew I'd be moving again before too long.
I made plans to travel for a few months and took advantage of the lease expiry, wonderful landlords and John's great friendship, to stay an extra few months in the flat. I packed up my belongings and stored them in my friends garage. For the first time ever, I was homeless. I had no home of my own, no family home to fall back on, just the wonderful friends that opened up theirs to me before and after I went overseas.
As the weeks until my return 'home' twindled I began to think of home as a fluid concept. I was returning 'home' to Wellington, the city I had always lived, where my friends were, some of my family, my job and where I knew I wanted to live. But I had no home. More than once I was asked 'Are you looking forward to going home?' and I always answered with an 'eh, um, ah. . . ' How do you answer that when you have no home?
I arrived 'home' to the generosity of three friends that opened up their homes and more specically their spare rooms to me, to stay as long as I needed. This generoristy and support allowed me to settle back into work and back into life at 'home'. I don't do post-holidays too well. I can get a little grumpy. I was able to take my time searching for a new home. It took me four weeks and 10 flat viewings to find the perfect little flat to move into.
I counted the days - 115. 115 days of living out of my suitcase, of constantly thinking about how much stuff I had, was it enough, was it too much, would it get through customs, would I be able to heave it up stairs, would I have all the clothes I needed, where was the deodarant, did I really just have one shoe of the pair, could I wear this again without washing it, could I be packed and ready in 10 minutes, perhaps I don't really need as much 'stuff' as I think I do. And, if I don't have a physical 'home', where is my home?
I've been here for two weeks now and I've emptied every box and every bag. I've bought new couches, a new bed and so many new kitchen utensils that Briscoes can afford to have another sale. Tonight as I was unwrapping the bubble wrap off my photo frames I wondered when I might move next. For the first time in a very, very long time I have a home that I don't have to move out of any time soon. I don't imagine I'll be here forever, but at the moment, it's my home.
Living on my own for only two weeks has so far been eye opening (that's for another blog post), but it's shown me that I can totally take care of myself and that I enjoy it.
But, while I am enjoying unpacking, unwrapping and rediscovering all my things and treasures, I realise that they don't make up the total of my home. My home is my 'things', my treasures, my belongings yes. My home is whereever my wonderful family are, no matter if thats when we're together in one place, or spread out across continets. My home is my amazing friends that offer to help, that insist on putting me up and that genuinely love me.
I am my own home. Home is wherever I am.