What home means to me
Home is a word that resonates on many levels.
I was born in Scotland and grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. My familial connections to Scotland and Ireland are familiar but they are not home. Similarly, after 35 years I can still go back to Sydney and feel, in certain spots, an intimate sense of place: it’s as if I could close my eyes and pretend that I’d never left, so familiar are the sounds, the smells, the city’s pulse. But Sydney has always been a place that I am happiest to be away from; this was especially so during the years 23 years I lived there.
When I came to live in Tasmania in the late 1970s, I immediately I felt a sense of home here. Why Tasmania? It was a place I hardly knew anything about. I wrote a book titled My Friends, This Landscape to celebrate the fact that I have chosen to live here for most of my life. During this time I have travelled to many countries but Tasmania has always been the place to which I’ve wanted to return. Each time I do return, whether from a short or long trip away, I feel a pang in my chest as I respond to the island’s invigorating physical beauty. Sometimes I notice its “emptiness” as in empty of people, especially after being in more crowded places. Mostly I feel this as a peacefulness, but at times I have felt it as an absence, an absence that is multi-layered.
So, home is feeling attached to landscape, friends and community: recently I imagined living overseas again for a while and although I thought it would be exciting and interesting, I also imagined being homesick for all the places and people and routines I know here. The French phrase for it is: mon habitude – ‘to be in the habit of doing’. I would miss my habitude.
Home is feeling attached to the houses and gardens that I have created and shared with friends, with my partner, with our animal companions. Home is feeling comfortable in our neighbourhood, recognising the everyday sounds of people coming and going, enjoying the friendliness of neighbours who wave or call out hello, or stop to chat for a few minutes; others nod or smile reservedly, but still in acknowledgment of this common space we share.
Home is feeling attached to this interesting little city, Hobart: surrounded by an inspiring landscape, I have always found it a friendly city that nurtures an impressive, creative community, one that more than transcends its regional borders - despite the economic and logistical challenges that come with being a small, island population.
As a writer, home is a fine-point pencil and a little notebook, a home of words that scribble onto the page quite spontaneously every morning while sitting in bed with a cup of tea. Mostly my creative writing process begins with pencil and paper: my home-base from which to get started. At other times, when I’m writing or editing factual documents, I start at the computer where I go to the Home option and choose Times New Roman: I feel at home with this font, just as I feel at home in my study that is sunny, warm and inviting.
Home is where the heart is – this popular saying also resonates on many levels. When the heart is in crisis physically or emotionally, a deep, personal sense of home, that sense of self, of well-being, is threatened or displaced. When you are forced to leave or flee your home, your exiled self is lost to the rupture of unwanted change. Being homeless is more than simply a lack of physical shelter. Healing, then, is about journeying back to the heart-centre, nurturing the whole self, taking time to breath deeply, coming back to the core and reclaiming a sense of home, even if it feels different to before or has to be created anew. Recently I started the practice of meditation and of trying to live more mindfully – it has felt like coming home.
What does home mean to you?
If you liked this post, you might also like:
Where the heart is, by Belinda Jones
and the blog that started this whole thing off, Russell Kelly's
Anne Collins writes poetry and prose. Her books are: The Season of Chance (Walleah Press), My Friends This Landscape (Ginninderra Press) and Seasoned with Honey (Walleah Press). Her next book The Language of Water will be published in October 2013. Anne’s other work can be found in journals and anthologies. She is an English literacy and maths tutor. She also does document writing and editing work – see her website for details here.
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