Heading Home

If I’m driving to my parents house in the country I often tell people I’m heading “home” for the weekend.

While I’m there, in their house, the one I’ve called my own for years; the one where I celebrated our marriage, and returned with baby, after baby, after baby, after baby. So many babies. While I’m there, in their house, my home, on a lazy Sunday morning, my parents will ask when I’m heading back to Adelaide, or heading home to the beach.

When I’m at the beach friends will ask when we’re leaving to go back to Doha, Qatar. When do the kids go back to school? When do you have to go home? “I’m heading back home in September”. Back to school runs, tutors, lunch boxes, walking the dog, and sitting on the bleachers at softball and baseball.

There is or was a home in Canada, a home in Libya, a home in Malaysia and another in Indonesia. Each had a familiar bedroom with scatter cushions and a walk in robe, a kitchen disaster, an overflowing bathtub, and a dining table full of friends. Each home brings a tear, a moment of nostalgia, a flicker of longing and a want to return to what was.

I talk of my geographical schizophrenia often but my children rarely describe it in the same way. As we drove from one home to another on the weekend my eldest spoke about the questions she is asked now that she’s living back in Australia, the things that just don’t make sense to her friends who have only ever lived in one house, in one town, in one state.

We giggle over the suggestion that she could compete in the Olympics for Qatar. It is not her birthplace, her nationality, or her heritage – but she is often introduced as being “from Qatar”. She has now lived in six countries. I cautiously head down the path of conversation towards home. She sighs.

“Mum, home isn’t a place. It’s a feeling”.

“You should write that down” I say with a grin.

Our homes have been made by people.

As long as we have the people, we have the home. Wherever that may be.

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