I love traveling. Going somewhere for the sake of seeing a new place, experience something I haven’t before or learning about the world, is reason enough to plan a trip. The itch to explore is naturally the main reason I travel. It is fun! There is another, less obvious, aspect of going away that deserves some attention though: the feeling of coming home, and this new perspective I have gained upon my return.
It might be silly to go somewhere simply for the pleasure of returning home again. It is the inverted, negative copy of traveling: the purpose of which isn’t going somewhere, but rather, returning to something. Some say that it is the most savory part of the trip. That no matter how magical the journey, there really is no place like home. And there is nothing like a trip to remind me of that fact. This is, of course, under the supposition that I have a home life worth returning to. In other cases, the trip instead works as a reminder of that very fact. In either circumstance, in the moment of returning, I am led to feel something, or see something from a perspective I didn’t have previously. I am able to observe my life at home clearly with the veil of everyday normalcy briefly lifted. The comparison to locations and lifestyles I have encountered in that new place I just returned from makes it possible to determine whether I am happy to be home, or wish I could have stayed at that other place. The direct and instantaneous reaction to this comparison is difficult to ignore. The Corona Pandemic and Lockdown may have been part of all this.
Traveling to my parent’s place: there is this familiar smell which is the same since my childhood. It always will be and means “happy place”, warmth and love. I don’t notice the smell of my own home until I leave and return again. The morning light in my bedroom is normal to me, nothing I either appreciate or dislike until I have been away from it for a few nights. Once I have seen, smelled, heard, touched, and experienced something a few times, my brain might as well autopilot things for a while until something new and exciting happens. And my everyday at-home-routines are definitely not new and exciting enough to waste brainwaves on. Until I go away for a while. All of a sudden, upon returning, my home becomes that new place worthy to discover. For a short period of time at least. Just until the brain realized is it just good old Kansas I have returned to, red slipperless and yellow brick road-free as can be. No matter whether I find coming home to be the best of the worst or maybe just a tolerable part of traveling, it is no doubt an important one.
Most importantly, the two more things I need to feel at home: My son and my partner. Ever since moving to Vienna, I have started identifying more and more with a turtle taking my home with me everywhere I go. These days, even though I still feel like this turtle sometimes, my son and partner are my shell. As long as I have them with me, there will always be a sense of belonging, of being home. And, if you find me curled up in my cozy corner, reading a good book with a glass of wine in hand, my calmly decorated room full of books and filled with the smell of food slowly cooking from the kitchen (my partner), my favorite jazz playlist playing on my laptop, with a few lit candles, you can safely assume I will be quite at ease and content. Even though my son is building a cave next to me. I am happy as long as both are around. Because as it turns out, home isn’t a certain place. Home isn’t even where I hang my hat. Home is where my heart is which is wherever and whenever I am hanging out with myself first and then with the people I love the most.