Last week for our wonderful monthly tele seminar with an expert, through Emma Walton Hamilton’s Children’s Book Hub, we were privileged to sit at the feet of someone with 25 years experience in the children’s books industry, the well known editor, Emma Dryden. While the session was rich in information, what struck me most was Emma Dryden’s approach; her heart for her clients and colleagues. This past week I have been reading back through several of Emma D’s blog posts. She isn’t a frequent blogger, but there is enough gold in each one to have you musing for days. My post today was inspired from reading this one from Emma D’s blog.
1. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family or household.
2. the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.
Neither of these two dictionary definitions truly reflects what home means to me. I’ve been thinking about it because I have had that itchy-feet feeling again for a number of months and know that the time is coming, sometime soon, to: pack my bags, pick up the guitar and say some “au-revoirs”. I have done it many, many times before; exchanging the known for the unfamiliar, immersing myself in a different culture, learning new languages, embracing new friends… I don’t think it becomes easier but the excitement remains.
I left home at 18 for university and I was so ready to go; to become a separate identity to my family, to pursue my own journey of self discovery. I wonder if home can ever be a dwelling for me? It isn’t simply because I have lived in so many different nations, but home seems to be more of a state of internal acceptance, punctuating the course of my life. I am sure it is linked to location, but each place I have lived in has brought me to a new level of personal understanding and yielding (often through some pretty rocky country along the way) – a being OK with myself. Of course the frequency of change when I was involved in humanitarian work, also forced/enabled me to learn to create a sense of security & belonging wherever I was.
While my home is meshed closely with my emotional and spiritual well-being, I think it is also linked with friendships. Wherever I have travelled in the world I have been blessed with wonderful relationships, with one exception. My time in Togo was lonely and fragmented, leaving me with more of an orphan spirit for a while. Retrospectively, I believe this was because I shouldn’t have gone there. Each time I have been transferred to a different project or chose to move on, I have been able to follow an inner instinct urging me to go for the new challenge, with Togo I followed a voice of fear and need and paid the price. How wonderful for me that even bad choices can be redemptive. So, with this one blip on the roadmap, the colorful tapestry of friends weaving in and out of my life, some staying, some moving on, has also created a home for my heart along the way. Thus the second definition above comes nearer, in part, to my experience, but I would probably rewrite it as “the people in whom one’s domestic affections are centered.”
Apart from living in tents in the Kalahari for a few months, my most primitive dwelling has to have been living in a 7 x 7 ft ex-chicken hut with stone walls and a corrugated iron roof, in Malawi. Here my nighttime ritual was to carve into a wooden beam, the number of cockroaches I killed each night! One of the coolest places I have lived was in a house like one of these below, in the Black Forest with a crowd of rowdy Germans, Swiss and Austrians.
My little apartment here in Nice is also very special to me, not just because of the address, which I wrote about here, but probably because of the garden, which in the middle of a big city is a true oasis for my soul. But even though I love where I live and have dear friends here, I can face letting it go and finding a new home, if I feel that I am following the path I should be on, as at least part of what home means to me travels with me on the inside.
One final thought I had after finishing this post was that home is also taking on a new twist for me as a writer; wherever my creativity flows!
Home has many meanings, often quite personal, what does it mean for you?