HOME- a four-letter word that is so common yet resonates differently with everyone. It might be unbelievable to think that I can write an entire piece on such a word but there is much more to this word than we can possibly imagine. If we ask the question: “what does home mean to you?” then the most common answer we’ll receive is exactly what you might be thinking right now; home is a place that you live. Yes, home is oftentimes the place we dwell and live in. It is a welcoming house where we make unforgettable memories with our loved ones. It can be the room we love so dearly; the room that is plastered with posters, picture frames and colour schemes of our personalities and distinctive tastes. While that is the standardised version of what home is, I’d like to focus my writing a bit more on the ‘not so talked about’ ideas of what home is to us.
The idea of home can also be a place of bitter taste on the tongue for some. For some, the idea of ‘home’ is far-fetched and not worth the time to even think about because of what it reminds them of. Home, for some, is a place where chaos and dysfunction shake hands. Or, perhaps ‘home’ is a place of sadness or guilt. Sadly enough, not everyone manages to make great memories in four walls amongst the people you cherish the most. In fact, some people have to share the place they call home with people they can’t even stand to look at or speak. I am not a family counsellor but what I will say is that those ideas of ‘home’ need to stop. As I was sitting in a family counselling class at UG, I was listening to my lecturer talk on the topic of ethnicity and family therapy. She stressed on the point; “a normal family does not equate to a healthy family”. Her point is valid as she suggested that what we deem as ‘normal’ might just be a factor based on our environment and that does not equate to the union being a healthy one.
I have mentioned the general idea of home but me, being the deep thinker that I am, I prefer to also elaborate a bit more on other ideas of home. For instance, home can also be a person. Home can be the arms of the person you feel the safest and closest to. Home can also be your family and friends, despite actually living in a house per se. Some people might disagree that a home is actually a house and I will agree with them. Traditional nomads (people who constantly move from one place to another) will also share this sentiment. Home to some is not the physicality of a building or structure, it is an emotional sentiment shared with others.
As I sat to write this piece my mind also led me to another heartbreaking question; “What do people who live on the streets call home?”. I reminisced on the many times I have seen the destitute curling up in a cardboard box with little to no physical attachments to call their own. What or who is their home then, at that moment? I have also thought about foster children who move from house to house throughout their childhood as well as, people who are simply running away from or running towards something better; or for better opportunities in an entirely different country. All of these people might have different answers but I am sure they all will share the same sentiment of emotional points of view of home– which isn’t that different from many of us. For me, if my parents are to one day magically disappear then my house simply wouldn’t be my home anymore and it’ll be safe to call me homeless. Simply put, my parents are my home. The old saying, “home is where the heart is” literally resonates with me.
Whatever or whoever your home is, I hope you hold onto the meaning and feeling of it tightly. I am glad you have somewhere or someone that you go to when you’re feeling unsafe and uncomfortable. Our homes, no matter what our definitions may be, keeps us safe from the world. Otherwise, we would not have called them; ‘home’. If by chance you are yet to find your home or you believe homes are temporary and your meaning of them changes as you grow then that is okay. No matter what home is to you, I know that your heart rushes and urges to get back to it after a long vacation or even a long day, the way mine urges to get back home to my parents and our cozy house. They are my haven; they are my home. What does home mean to you?