I recently stumbled across an incredible Ted talk by Pico Iyer, on the subject of home, and it’s made me think a lot about what it all means.
I was born in York. I grew up in the suburbs, then in a nearby village; I went to primary school in the countryside and secondary school in the heart of the city. My family home is still in that same village near York.
By most definitions, York is my hometown.
I went to university in Norwich. Three of my most formative years were spent there, my first taste of making my own home. When I lived there, I called it home.
I lived abroad in Newcastle, Australia. This year in particular changed my life more than any other – I still get homesick when I see my Aussie friends visiting our favourite cafes and coffee shops; when I see things change and develop in the area and it looks alien to my memories of the town.
Yet, I’m certainly not Australian. Can you call a place home when it is 10,000 miles away?
Now I live in London. I’ve been here for a little over two years. I’ve had three different homes here and my first proper jobs. I work here, sleep here, run here – does that make me a Londoner? On a gloomy weekday, with my face pressed into the armpit of an angry commuter on the tube, stubbornly ignoring the awkward situation in a sullen silence, I really hope not. On the good days however – when the sun shines, Londoners remember how to smile, the bongo man on Portobello Road learns a new beat and the streets are effervescent with movement and life – I feel a Londoner through and through.
I’m not sure that I truly believe in the idea of home any more, not in the traditional sense. As the world gets smaller and opens up, we’re all becoming more global in our outlook. Travelling allows us to discover countless new homes: towns you’ve never heard of that somehow feel so familiar, or little backpacking pitstops that become more special to you than you ever imagined. As we travel, we make new friends that become like family along the way; we find ourselves becoming part of extended families scattered across the globe. We know that we can have a place to call home on every continent.
York will always be one of my very favourite cities, just as Norwich and Newcastle and London will always occupy a special place for me. I feel that same familiar yearning for home when I see the green fields of Yorkshire as the crashing waves of New South Wales and the stucco-fronted townhouses of South West London. With every trip that I take, I discover more places that I know I could call home… and who knows – perhaps I one day I will.
Where do you call home?
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