Home is one of those words associated with family, comfort and security. The thought of home, to most people, conjures up images of bliss and serenity. After a 14 hour trip on the proverbial yellow brick road, just the sight of Sydney from above in an aeroplane gives me goosebumps. On the drive home from the airport I see that things have not changed, things are exactly as they were when I left last – the same roads, buildings, neighbours, driveway, house, bedroom. That tree in the backyard may have grown slightly, the kids next door are three inches taller, and the family pet is furrier, fatter and slightly lazier. But things are still familiar, secure and comfortable.
Having been at home now for a good week or so, I did realise that there was no place like home. Food on hand. Laundry washed. Love is all around.
Through your childhood as you grow up all you think about is leaving home. And then you leave. You work and travel in all parts of the world, meeting others who have also left their homes, and at the same time being invited into new homes. While you are away you try to recreate that feeling of home for your own self – through friends, routines, comfort, security and memories. And so on, until one day, you realise as you get older (and maybe wiser), your real home is the one and only place you want to go back to. For me, going back home makes me appreciate all the simple things. It also makes me appreciate the great things I’ve done while I’ve been away. It makes me feel lucky that I’ve had the privilege of being able to spend time away, to create a life for myself, while at the same time have the comfort of knowing that if all else fails, there is always the opening arms of a loving home waiting for me.
But I also think a person can have multiple “homes”. As a saying goes, home is not where you live, but where they understand you. To be in a place where you are understood as the person you are brings a sense of belonging and family. There’s nothing better in the world when you find a group of people, far away from your natural home, who know you like you have been friends for decades. You form these friendship bonds and you trust these people like family. So leaving these people can sometimes be just as hard as leaving your own family behind. As someone readjusting to life back in the ‘real world’ there are times when you get ‘homesick’ for your other homes. I wonder if Dorothy ever missed the land of Oz? Does she wonder what happened to her friends, the scarecrow, lion and tin man? And that crazy wizard?
You know that life goes on without you, and like some parallel universe, you sometimes crave for that other home too. But you also know that the next time you are there, all will be the same – the road, buildings, neighbours etc – and that there will be your other family there waiting for you, open arms – probably with a drink in hand – ready to welcome you home.