Simon Fowler's Blog

Where’s home?

Posted by Simon on August 3, 2010

I’ve been away for the last five weeks (and silly busy in the weeks before that, hence the blog silence) but within two weeks I wanted to come ‘home’. The weird thing about that feeling is that ‘home’ used to be, and in some ways still is, England. I’ve only lived in the US for 7 of my 43 years, but I wanted to be back here.

Actually, it’s not the US that feels like home, but the street I currently live on. I never before such a sense of belonging somewhere. So even though I was ‘away’ seeing my mom and siblings and wonderful friends I’ve known for decades, I needed a physical location to feel ‘home’. I mean a location, not just a house, that’s associated with people and relationships and a shared history (albeit fairly short).

I don’t know anyone now who lives in the town in which I spent the first 23 years of my life, and I don’t know anyone in the town where my parents retired to in the early ’90s. My sisters are scattered between across England, Scotland, Wales and New Zealand, and my friends are likewise scattered. So the only place I have a day to day continuity of relationship is where I currently live.

If I could gather my friends and family in England together in one place, where I could ‘pop in’ or where I’d bump into them serendipitously in the course of days and weeks, then for sure that would be home. But I can’t, so it isn’t. At least for now, this is.


5 Responses to “Where’s home?”

  1. Ariane Blondin said

    I know what you mean. Even though I didn’t go anywhere and stayed in that same street where you currently live, seeing you guys coming back was like a relief. Having a drink and impromptu dinner on the balcony felt so natural, I was surprised to think “This is home now”.

  2. Hari said

    Hahaha.. as a foreigner on US soil I can empathize with what you wrote here. Unlike you, though, this is not yet “home” for me. I like Boston, but I’m still looking forward to the day I am going home.

  3. Celine said

    I have the same feeling every time my husband and I leave the US to go on a holiday “back home” in Europe! Well, to me home is a familiar environment where you spend most of your time, work, go shopping, the place to which you return every night… and the more I spend time away from “home”, the more I feel like it is less and less my home. As you said, friends are gone and family is scattered. It is nice and weird in the meantime to actually come back after a holiday thinking “we are going back home”.

  4. Simon said

    Hi Celine. Thanks for commenting – I’ve been a little slack on my blog of late.

    I think you nailed the definition there: “home is a familiar environment where you spend most of your time, work, go shopping, the place to which you return every night”. It’s that combination and consistency of time, place and people that seems to create that feeling. It is weird though, isn’t it, being ‘home’ but wanting to get back home.

    Hari – Even though you and I have been in this country for the same length of time, I wonder whether it doesn’t feel like home is because the language and culture are so so different from your home country?

  5. In “Death of the Hired Hand,” Robert Frost’s farm couple offer two definitions for “home.”

    Warren says, “Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

    Mary replies, “I should have called it something you haven’t somehow to deserve.”

    I lean toward Mary’s version. Home is more than anything a state of mind. I have three: wherever I live with my wife; Detroit, where I grew up, the place my mother and all my siblings live; and Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, where I was born.

    Cape Breton, like Hemingway’s Paris, is a movable feast. Other than my first three years, I’ve only visited for a few weeks at a time, but when I say “down home,” anyone who knows me knows it’s a place I didn’t have to deserve.

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