Monday, August 15, 2011

A Sense of Place

What is home, exactly?
For 18 years, the city of Indianapolis was home.
For 5 years, West Lafayette was home.
And right now Bangkok is home.

But what really makes any place home?
People keep asking me “will I be excited to come home?”
And I don’t know how to answer that question honestly without offending people.
The answer is supposed to be “yes! I can’t wait to come home!”
But that’s not how I feel.

What exactly do you mean by come home?
Bangkok is home now.
It may not be a permanent home, but it’s more home than any place in Indiana.

How much of a connection do you have to have with a place to call it home?
Or at least a place you care about deeply?

I’ve only spent 10 days in China. But it made enough of an impact on me to care about what’s happening in the city of my hosts. I care about the people I encountered.

I lived in Firenze for one month. And it felt more like home than any place had for the previous three years.

I’ve lived in Bangkok for 9 months. And I feel like I live in limbo. But as soon as a taxi or motosai turns down my home soi, I know I’m home free. I get to put down my backpack, turn on the aircon and sit in my own space.

I spent 3 nights on the island of Koh Chang. But the sense of peace on that pier staring up at the stars felt like home, for a little while.

Some people say home is where the heart is. Or where your family is, or pumpkin pie or Thanksgiving or the State Fair or whatever else conjures up images of comfort.

It really struck me how shaken I was by the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair and by the protests in Dalian, China this weekend. These events are so much smaller than the show-stopping headlines 2011 has brought us. But these smaller events are in places that have provided a sense of home to me at some time, however briefly. It’s harder to remain detached from it.

Home is a sense of safety and peace.
A space, however small, that is your own for a period of time.

The places that have been home are always a part of who you are.
Some people have one home their entire lives.
But not me.
I don’t know where home is.
I don’t know if home needs a location.

Unlike some of the more adventurous nomads out there, I don’t seek to be location independent. I don’t seek to rid myself of all material possession except one backpack, though I strive to accumulate less.
I’d still like a true home base somewhere, someday.

But I’m a rolling stone.
Home is where I lay my head at night.

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