Where’s home for you?

If you’re new in town, the question is inevitable. Whether it’s just a conversation starter or a need to ‘place’ each other, we’re often trying to find the familiar ground. I was asked this morning, and I did the same thing I always do. Every time. I hesitate for a moment as I picture my small country town. There’s a house with a willow tree and fish pond outside, my Grandparents are next door, I have Aunties and Uncles up and down the street, my father is standing with a golf club hitting plastic golfballs over the front lawn. And then I realize none of those people are there anymore. And I am no longer 10.

Another house will quickly appear, the one I was married in, the one my parents still live in, the one with the bunks bed, play equipment and sandpit for the Little Travelers. The one where we get a bit excited and have too much to drink and say all the wrong things. I don’t want to say that one though, because no one will know where it is and then I’ll have to have a long drawn out conversation about the Barossa Valley being just up the road, but it’s not. Unless you’re 45,000 miles from home, then it’s just up the road.

So I’ll think about boarding school, old historical buildings, girls with big maroon bows in their hair and gingham dresses with knee high socks. Midnight feasts, swimming caps in pools and powder fights. I can’t say I’m from Adelaide though. I’m from the country, I’m not really FROM Adelaide.

“I’m South Australian” I’ll say, and then quickly “my husbands from Queensland,” because I know they’ll be happy with Queensland. They’re always happy with Queensland.

Do people become metaphors for the land they inhabit? I’ve heard friends use the expression “oh she’s soooooo Sydney” and I’m sure it had nothing to do with having an arse the size of the Opera House.

Does your personality match the landscape around you?

Over the past ten years, my landscape has provided what I often refer to as a bad case of Geographical Schizophrenia.  I’ve been surrounded by mosques and churches, Shopping malls and Souks, beach and desert. The landscape has initially confused me. How can it be blue skies and minus 42? Do people really live in 55 degree heat? Then one day, you find yourself giving directions, the landmarks become familiar and comforting and out of nowhere you realize you’ve just referred to it as ‘home’.

I read something today about Spiritual Geography (don’t panic I’m not surrounded by crystals and lentils, looking for a spiritual forum for us all to connect…it was part of a writing workshop) but it did get me thinking about mine. I thought about the house with the willow tree and the fish pond. Is it possible that I am a living cliche. “You can take a girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl”.

Where’s home for me?

It’s where I am right now, but it’s also where I’ve been before here. I can see Houston, Calgary, Tripoli, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. I picture their kitchens, putting children to bed, leaving the office. Even though one had monkeys in the garbage bin and the other had three inches of snow. They all had one thing in common. They were all home.

I think home might be wherever I want it to be.

Where’s home for you?

  • http://www.asiavufullcircle.blogspot.com/ MsCaroline

    This one hit home (no pun intended) very deeply for me.  It’s how I grew up, moving from country to country and city to city.   When people ask where I’m from, I still never know what to say.  Husband grew up in the same way – transient military/diplomatic kids with no real place to call home.  We were recently in Belize on holiday and every time we were asked where we were from, we’d pause, then say, ‘Well, we live in Texas at the moment, but we’re not from Texas.”  Which was sort of stupid, because we aren’t from anywhere else, either. When I was younger, home was wherever my parents were, but now my dad’s deceased and my mom’s remarried and living in a state where I have never lived, and I just can’t think of it as ‘home’ either.  So I guess it boils down to home being wherever our little family is together…such a great post.  I’m going to have to do some more thinking about this.

  • http://twitter.com/bigwordsblog Bianca Wordley

    Born and bred Adelaide. But when I lived in Melbourne, home was there. Home is where my husband and kids are. 

  • http://sundaykoffron.blogspot.com/ Sunday Koffron Taylor

    Kristy, that is always the million dollar for me.  I lived in one house with my parents.   I stayed there after my mother left us.  We went somewhere else when she came back and took us years later.  Then I went to foster care and lived in a lot more places with a lot more people.  They were all home, yet none of them are MY home.  My home is where ever I am loved, and that is here with my husband and kids.  Thanks for sharing a great post…home can be so much more complicated than it seems.

  • http://twitter.com/Bern_Morley Bern

    Eeek, so topical right now.  I was born in bred on the gold Coast.  Sounds like it should be a riot, but like anywhere, it’s just what you know.   We are in the middle of a massive life change.  We are both ready to up sticks and move to another state. Somewhere different, out of our comfort zone.  Kids, not so happy and I’d love for you to tell me about this K, do they adjust?

    I hope so. xx

  • http://www.facebook.com/anj.morton Anjanette Porter Morton

    I think you would be able to understand that, for me, home is Australia…even though I was born and raised in Southern California.  I have lived in SoCal, Southern Oregon, Portland, London, Tuscany, Sydney and Las Vegas. But the one place I’ve felt most at home was Australia – anywhere in Australia, actually. 

  • Maria

    I read an article a while ago that said most people on average settle down about 14km from where they started from.

    It’s an interesting thought.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

  • shamozal

    Absolutely, maybe the more ‘homes’ we have, the more our idea of  ‘home’ changes and moulds itself? I’ve heard so many people use the same expression about a place “this just feels like home”. 

    I love California, and have sat at Laguna beach thinking “I could live here”, for me California feels a lot like home (I think it might be the oranges), but Australia is always going to be home.

  • shamozal

    Bern, I reckon its all in the presentation. We’ve had very smooth moves (not just the dance variety) but we’ve always had some good bribes waiting in the new location. When you know where you’re moving to, find the best ‘what’s in it for me’ for each child and start working it. 

    I think if they can feel your excitement it will catch on, if they can see there’s angst and worry – same thing.

    I’m so excited for you guys, are you sure you want to leave that weather???

    Kirstyx

  • shamozal

    My father settled down about 25 steps from where he started! I wonder if the stats covered third world countries as well or was it just focussed in one particular country? 

  • shamozal

    My husband was an expat kid and he does the same thing, before buying a house in Oz, if people asked where home was he’d often answer “my parents live in…” Now that he has his own little piece of Australia he talks of that house, but then when we are asked where we’ll end up….back to square 1, homeless!

  • http://www.ourbigexpatadventrue.wordpress.com/ KJ

    Ahhhhh…home. 

    Home will always be Australia, somewhere. I was born in the Pilbara of WA, spent most of my formative years in the Hunter, and 17 years in Melbourne.  As of 16 days ago I live in Singapore.  It is not home.  We are in a serviced apartment and it is certainly not home.

    Whislt i am looking forward to the leasing gods of Singapore performing miracles and getting us into our chosen house before Christmas, if we are all together and just hanging out (like we did yesterday) it can feel a little like home here. 

  • Suzi

    Home is where the heart is, as they say. I think I have only just found home in the small town I have recently moved to. it felt ‘right’ from the outset, like home.

  • http://twitter.com/mamabook Michelle

    I loved this post. The thing I have found most remarkable about moving back to California is how quickly it felt like home again. Driving around town it almost feels as if I never left. But as I was preparing to leave Sydney the depths of my feelings for my original ‘home’ city were intense. I wonder even more about how my kids will answer that question. I suspect my oldest might hold onto Australia as home for longer than the rest, but right now they are all still in that place. 

  • http://whatsournextmove.blogspot.com/ gwen

    I feel as if you can read my mind at times. I get these ideas for blog posts in my head but before I write it, you write something about the exact same thing. My girls and I have been discussing the idea of how we have many different places that feel like home for different reasons. Hope you don’t mind but I had to share on my fb page as I know many of my friends will relate. Question is now….what will I write about on my blog??? No more stealing posts from my imagination, ok?  🙂

  • http://www.lifeintheexpatlane.com/ Miss Footloose

    Excellent post!  I identify with what you are saying and feeling.  My question is this:  What will be home when you “retire,’ or get too old for the expat life?  Fortunately I am not there yet, but I can see it coming and I have no idea what will be “home,” and where it would be.

  • shamozal

    I have no idea either, but I’m guessing it will be in the vicinity of where we have a house in Oz. The idealist in me says I will be wherever my children are but the realist knows that as expat children and being four of them they will probably end up scattered everywhere. At this stage of the game though, I’m just trying to get through the madness that is the lead up to the end of the school year. Roll on summer holidays!

  • wotisunique

    I haven’t lived an expat life, but since leaving university I have worked in 5 different towns (I just counted up – that’s 5 towns in roughly *cough* 20 years). So it seems I’m often starting afresh, and often asked where I’m from. The last move was just over 12 months ago & I’m very clear (in my head anyway) that this town doesn’t feel like ‘home’ yet.

    I think it will when I have friends as opposed to people I say hello to.

    Otherwise, I just say “I was born in Sydney” and skip all the years between now and then. Perhaps this is cheating?

  • Kirby Primer

    I’m from Mt Gambier but have been living in Adelaide for the past few years and when I was in Melbourne last year had no idea where to say I’m from.  In Adelaide I tell people I’m from the Mount but in other states and countries I tend to say I’m from Adelaide. No idea why though.

  • Kelli

    I am a Texas girl living in Denmark and the only thing I hope folks never say about me is “oh she is sooo American” because that connotation is NOT a positive one. 🙂

  • shamozal

    You just made me spit my coffee out. So true.  Kx

  • shamozal

    I do exactly the same thing. I wonder if all country people do that?

  • Jo

    When I first moved to Sydney I identified myself as ‘From QLD’. I was more laid back and relaxed, a tad more naive and slightly more rough around the edges. But after 4 years in the Big Smoke that girl has transformed into something else, not quite QLD’er but still not quite full bblown sydney-sider

  • http://fairytalehausfrau.blogspot.com/ Hausfrau

    Great post! This is something I think about quite frequently.

  • Nat Brookes

    When I first left Australia many many years ago I was so homesick for the first 6 months or so until I realised that I had to start actually living in the country I was in, not converting everything back to the dollar and thinking that this was just a temporary thing.  Since then I have had many homes, currently it’s Doha in Qatar but it has also been Spalding, Leeds, Nuneaton, Nantwich and Telford in the UK, Abu Dhabi in the UAE and Muscat in Oman.  But my original home, that I am always so proud to tell people is Darwin in the Northern Territory to which I always add ‘up the top where all the crocodiles are’ because a lot of people don’t know where it is 🙂