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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  1. Mascha PK says

    It’s been the same for us. I can also feel at home in places we’ve visited multiple times, and I can envision maybe ‘coming home’ there one day in retirement, for say two months a year, like Seville or Barcelona. But mostly when we visit former home countries and -cities, the homes of friends and the feeling of being back where we belong or belonged during a certain period in time, it often fills my heart with joy and sometimes almost breaks it thinking of these places and the people we used to share our daily lives with. The warmth is still there, with most it’s easy to pick up where we left off, but my heart strings are often pulled, hard too. I’m very thankful for social media, snail mail, with some friends I write actual letters, though sometimes it’s just never enough.

  2. I have always said family are the immediate family members around us – husband & kids. but I’ve been struggling lately with ‘home’. We left our birthplace – Vancouver – 12 years ago and are now on our 4th city and second county. Mr C and I had a discussion last week about if Brisbane felt like home yet and we’ve both agreed it doesn’t but can’t put our finger on why yet. We own a beautiful home and are staying put so I need to figure out what that missing ingredient is to make a city ‘home’. Is it just the people or is it a feeling that comes from inside you? Has every place you’ve lived felt like ‘home’?

  3. You daughter is so right, it really isn’t a place. For us we’ve not got a home to go back to, my parents moved all my life and are expat retirees now, my husbands were expats when he was a kid. Now we are expats and don’t even own a property in a country we call home. It’s a feeling at home where we are either in the house we currently rent or visiting with family. It can even be in a tent on a beach. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have a place to call home all my life, we often get confused and call different places home. I love the life we have and the home we have together. At times we need reminding that it’s a feeling not a place thanks 🙂

  4. Home for me is where my loves are. So home is where my parents are, where my hubby and kids are your daughter is right home isn’t a place says the woman who won’t move from the house she is in now because of an emotional attachment to a building

  5. Caro Webster says

    Beautiful piece of writing Kirsty and spot on too!

  6. Your girl is spot on Kirsty. I don’t think of home as being one place. I think I have a few anchor points around the world that I refer to them all as home.

  7. So true – “home” can be many places at once (I often use the word twice in one sentence to mean two different places) but it’s so much more than a place.

  8. Emily Jones says

    I love this! I grew up on a farm and while living in Sydney I referred to it as “home home” when questioned as to where I was heading.
    Tonight my 4 kids 11 suitcases and a Husband head to London from Singapore. As we headed into the lounge my nearly 3yr old who has never been in one say “is this my new home?” Bring on the next chapter.

  9. AdventuresOfAjerseygirl says

    I wrote a similar post recently and it’s so true that the expat life gives you many “homes” but it’s more than the destination. Kids can be so profound sometimes, she has it spot on. Fab read

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