I mentioned that I have recently been on holiday in Scotland.
On our return trip, we broke the journey in the place where I was brought up and lived until I left for uni at 18. The main purpose of the stop was for me to meet up with a dear lady, who, together with her late husband, was very kind to my parents when their health and strength was failing. I also wanted to have a look around the old place and to reminisce.
There is nothing beautiful about my old home. It’s a north-west England seaside town, close to Blackpool. Let’s call it Sandcastle-on-sea. Like it’s ugly sister, it has seen much better days. As I walked around, in the only rain to be found in the whole of the UK, this blazing summer, I got to asking myself, in a blog sort of way, whether I could call this place my home? After all, although I hadn’t lived there for decades, I passed most of my formative years there and my much missed parents lived there more or less until their end.
I debated with myself, as I do, that, during my 50 odd years, I have lived in a number of different places, most of which, I have called home, whilst I have been living there. Sometimes, I have called more than one place home at the same time e.g Sandcastle-upon-sea and also the various places where I have lived and owned my own property, from time to time.
Then there was my old university town where I had the time of my life and did a bit of studying as well. I met some of my dearest friends there whom I have known now for most of my adult life. I pushed the boundaries of my overprotected only childness and learned my limitations. So was this place home?
There is also the Lake District National Park, in Cumbria, in north-west England, the beauty of whose scenery never fails to make my heart soar. It did it for Wordsworth as well, in a big and very poetic way. I’ve visited there many times and we stopped off, for a few days, on our recent road trip. Although the hordes of tourists are annoying (that doesn’t include me, of course, as I’m practically a native), every time I see the magnificent mountains and mysterious lakes, I feel a tremendous connection with the place.
I could go on, but I need to get to some conclusions here.
The old proverb says that “home is where the heart is.” I googled around to check what that proverb actually means. It has been interpreted differently to mean i) your home is where your loved ones are or ii) your affections and memories will always be tied to the place where you live.
Hmmm. Not totally helpful.
For me, “home” is a state of being and belonging. It’s a place where you can comfortably live your life and be yourself, supported by some of the people you want to be with, whether they are friends, family, animals or all of the above.
It’s also a place for which you have some affinity, such that you are happy to spend most of your time there. It may be urban landscape or remote countryside, but the external environment touches something within you.
You may hang your hat in lots of different places, but for me, these are the criteria which determine whether a place is “home” or just the place where you live.
So, not quite as pithy and succinct as the old proverb, but I think I got there in the end. My only remaining question is, where do you call home?