As I’ve written about a few times before, I don’t think in words. I mainly think in pictures, although there is sometimes a multi-sensory aspect to my thoughts, where pictures, emotions and physical sensations combine.
But sometimes words are just words. I use them, and presumably use them in the correct context, but I don’t really understand what they mean.
‘Home’ is one of those words.
When other people used that word, I could tell that it had a hidden meaning. From their explanations, it seemed to be a place where they feel safe; a place to which they are emotionally attached; a place where memories have been made; a place that they could associate as ‘theirs’. For many people, ‘home’ seems to be where they grew up and where their parents may still live.
I never had that. Certainly growing up, the house where I lived couldn’t be described as somewhere I felt safe; I was tolerated there as long as I obeyed the unwritten and ever-changing rules, but I never felt I belonged. Going back as an adult is difficult for me – even from a sensory perspective it feels wrong: the house is full of conflicting patterns and every surface seems to be full of ornaments. And the conversation is just a wall of sound that I struggle to process. The quiet market town I grew up in is not how I remember it, either – there has been so much building work over the last few years that it is clogged with traffic and almost unrecognisable. I don’t miss it, and can’t see myself ever moving back. I would feel as though I am drowning.
So I don’t associate my childhood living arrangements with the concept of ‘home’, and the places I have lived in as an adult have always felt somewhat transient (even the flat where I lived for almost 10 years felt temporary).
But I think I am now beginning to understand the concept. My adopted town is perhaps not the prettiest, or the best located. But driving back on the motorway after visiting the place I lived in as a child, my heart lifted when I saw the same hills I can see from the window of my living room. My flat has a sense of space and calmness that I’ve never before managed to find and, in hindsight, was always what I was looking for. I have chosen almost everything in my flat, and I feel a personal connection with everything I can see or use (with the exception of a truly horrendous light fitting, which will be replaced shortly).
I would not want to leave here. If and when I do, I will be leaving something behind that can’t be replaced.
I still don’t know whether this is what other people mean when they say about ‘home’. I just know that, now the word has that meaning to me, I feel as though I am finally standing on firm ground.