Is It My Home?

Some things in life never change. One such thing is “home”. Some say that you can travel the whole world, live in some of the most extravagant places on earth; but you’ll never forget the comfort of being in your own home. I can vouch for this. Pretty much everyone can vouch for this. Now what I disagree with is that most people believe that they can only have one home. That home is (no surprise here) the one where you spent the most time growing up in.

Leaving the place you were born and grew up in is a part of life that is unavoidable. It’s a cliche. I reminisce about the time a couple of years back when I left my home in India to come to Canada. It wasn’t until a few months had passed here that I realized the many little things that made my home. You see, when we grow up, we don’t just grow up in a house. We grow up in a place built with animate and non-animate objects. When you are taken out of this place, everything you are familiar with is taken away. You not only leave your “home”, but also the people and things you created thousands of memories with. You are now supposed to create similar memories in a place you probably don’t know much about. It’s a feeling of familiarity and comfort that you try to create again.

When I moved to Canada, I strongly refused to call my apartment “home”. I despised calling it that. I believed that I had only one home and that was back in India. Everything I ever knew was there. I think about that time and realize how much has changed. Slowly, life had taught me to get a grip through experiences and hardships here and call my once neglected apartment my “home”. After all, it was the only place I could feel like me in when I was in an alien place. Not only that, I had actually made it “familiar” by buying furniture, books, clothes and so much more and putting it in one place I was comfortable in. So why shouldn’t it be my home?

A few months back when I left for the summer to go back to India, it was painful to leave Montreal. Unknowingly, it had grown on me. When I landed in there, coming back felt a bit alien. It was strange how somewhere I grew up felt alien in that moment. Some things had changed and most hadn’t. Sometimes I could put my finger on it and tell what had changed but sometimes I could not. The catch here is that time fixes everything, what I was familiar came back and shadowed all the doubts I had. Distance and time doesn’t change much. You don’t easily forget the place you grew up in.

But you see, life is cruel. You can’t stay in one place for too long. I had to leave for Canada again. It was yet again a very painful farewell. I thought of cancelling my ticket, but I could not. This was mostly because I had to get my degree and also because a part of me wanted to go back to the place. You don’t forget the home you were building all by yourself. Bittersweet would be the right word for this feeling. Anyway, being back home in Montreal was deja vu. The same process of familiarizing my way around something I knew had started.

What I’ve learnt from having my feelings juggled around from one place to another is that anything can become a “home”. Something you are familiar with can become unfamiliar and something unfamiliar can become familiar. This feeling has tagged along with me to many places and I’ve finally realized that no matter where in the world you are, you will always wrestle with unfamiliarity but eventually time will heal everything and enough memories will be created to make anything a “home” if you want.

You leave them and one day you will revisit them. Every memory is still there – alive and waiting to be revived. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your humble abode, it can be a vacation somewhere you had years ago and when you revisit that place again, you will familiarize yourself again with the one place you knew already. It’s a feeling that cultivates itself. As I keep writing this, I realize that some might wonder if this is a start of an existential crisis of not belonging somewhere. I assure you it’s not. Not only that, I actually believe that not having just one “home” and actually learning to embrace unfamiliar places will save you from falling into the abyss. As I write this down, I keep thinking about all the places I’ve traveled and how they were my “homes”, even if it was just for a week or a month. I pretty sure you must have some places you can think of too. If you ever feel like home is far, don’t be blue, you are already building one.

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