Dad: “You’re away from home for the entire year, you should stay with us for the entire summer holidays”.
Is it? Don’t think so. Maybe? Maybe not…
The thing is, when you turn thirty (and possibly even much earlier), “home” tends to be where you live or have been living for a while…your “family home” becomes…well…your family home.
Which leads us to the fantastic conclusion that we can spend our summer holidays wherever we want to, choosing among so many options of which the “family home” is just one.
What really drove me to write this post today, though, is what we mean when we say home.
Some people think that home is where they used to live with their parents, where their family of origin is.
I moved out from my hometown when I was 18, but I’ve always considered all the places I’ve lived in like temporary. I didn’t know where I would have been after Uni, and ended up having to go back to my hometown for a couple of months before starting my MA.
Even during my MA I felt like I was living “800 km away from home”.
I started feeling differently when I started working. When I was paying the bills and the rent and all the things included in my everyday life with my own salary. That little “detail” started making me perceive the house I was living in like my “home”. My friends and my partner became my new family and I started to go “back home” less frequently.
Leaving my second home for the unknown (London), was one of the hardest and most painful decisions I had to take in my life, but I only took it when I was totally convinced that leaving would have improved my life immensely.
Since I moved to London, one year ago, my biggest fear was not being able to build the same amount of happiness and family I managed to in Modena.
It hasn’t been easy so far and living in a huge capital most of the times means bonding with people who go back to their countries or go to live somewhere else at some point.
I kinda of have an opinion about that.
London is a place where it’s very hard to stand still. It spins around and it spins you around pushing you to do things every time of the day. It might be because of the immense possibilities it offers, or because of its weather, which brings you to do things when it rains (otherwise you think you’ll wait forever), and when it’s sunny ‘cause you don’t want to waste the chance to enjoy it.
It might be its kaleidoscopic soul, where every area you go to feels like a different city, a different part of the world, with a different rhythm a different music.
Some of the people I’ve met so far feel the need of living the city entirely, always going, always at high speed, always doing something.
I find quite hard meeting people who, sometimes, want to stop. And I don’t mean “stop” as in don’t want to do anything today, but simply because of the immense value of slowing down and standing still. So far all the people I met who wanted some calm went abroad, to places like Italy, Spain, or South America, as if the warmer the place, the calmer it would have been.
When I was living in Italy I was about to explode. I wanted to do things, but couldn’t find a way to do them. I ended up being unemployed for two years and spending my time sending cvs to companies which never got back to me or, in my “free time”, writing short stories I’d never had the guts to publish or even to send them to an editor for a feedback. Everything outside my window was most of the time “always the same”, which I didn’t find particularly motivating.
What is weird enough is that London is my home now. It’s always been home to me a bit, but now I feel like I’ve been living here for ages. And I still don’t know so many things about it that I can afford to feel like an eternal tourist, but at the same time familiar enough with the place to take a break and stop when I need to.
I don’t have many friends here, neither the house of my dreams or a very well paid job.
But I still have much more than I expected to have after one year in a new country.
I don’t know how long I”m going to stay here or if I am one of those people who, in the future, will need to move in order to stop. What I know is that this city took out a side of me I knew existed, but I wasn’t too familiar with: my exploring side.
When I walk around all my senses are completely awake. The smells of the coffee coming from the Starbucks around the corner, the Caribbean pasties or the jerk chicken scent filling the streets of the area I live in. When I eat something new, I feel like a child excited to play with food.
And then the roaring of cars and buses in the main streets, the infinite shades of white and grey of the clouds in the sky, the structure of the buildings always different and with different names: council, terraced, victorian, detached, semidetached, cottage, georgian, maisonette.
The way people dress, never following a trend or a specific pattern. The patterns of the walls, roads, streets, shop windows, signs, cars. People’s faces and stories, every market different from another, every park different from another….and more more more…
I can’t tell how much I love this city and how much I love the way I manage to experience it.
I can only say that this is home to me now. And it feels like it was always meant to be.