I’ve been on the road for almost two months now, and seen a lot of different places. Places people living here call home. Some of them were really isolated.
Still, they were homes for them, and little by little I’m starting to understand that. Home is where the heart is, goes the saying. Another one says that home is where the wifi connects automatically 🙂 In any case, home is a choice, sometimes not a completely conscious one, if you live close to your parents, for instance.
Being away from home for so long is quite difficult. That’s one of the tough part of my trip. When you go on vacation, it’s usually for a few weeks. You don’t have time to be homesick. But leaving for a month or more, and with no clear date of return, is something else entirely. In my case the date of return is even set by the physical effort I put into moving forward, which is both an appeal and a daunting situation. I even added to the challenge by selling my home before leaving 🙂 The operation will actually be completed within a few weeks. It’ll probably be a shock by itself.
From my experience it takes about three months to settle into a new place. At least when moving from a place to another, in the same country. I’ve lived one year in England but never quite settled there and called the student room “home” 🙂
During my trip I’m going from place to place, staying a couple days maximum, usually only for a night. Hardly enough to settle or call them home. This is physically swinging from liana to liana, or even grasping at straws. Some places I like, some I don’t. When they’re very far from civilization, empty and desolate, and when the climate is hot and dry, I feel even farther from home, and that is a logical source of stress 🙂 I speculate this is the source of my coughing (I had some asthma as a child). When it’s a more relaxing place and I feel at ease, it’s closer to home in some way. But never comfortable enough for me to be wanting to stay much longer though (and far enough to want to establish myself, apart from San Francisco 🙂 ).
Yet in almost all of these places, small towns, larger cities, remote campgrounds, minuscule hamlets, people live there. Sometimes for just six months, like park rangers, some forever. This is their home. I can easily understand when the place is close to my own experience of home, but I find it more difficult when it’s very remote. In some villages, you need to ride a solid 100 miles to find a decent store where you can do all your shopping. There’s no theater for even farther away. That’s a real culture shock.
But over the last few days I’m starting to accept that more easily. That’s been in my head as the thought appeared after Hite. Seeing places so different in such a short span is really striking. And everywhere (well almost everywhere), people live and have their homes ! We need different things and we can settle in different places. Probably as, after two months, my universe is limited to a large bag (and internet !), I’m needing less and less things to feel comfortable. Or it simply comes from seeing such varied places at once.
When you live somewhere, as most people do :), you visit friends, perhaps take breaks in the same area, or the same country, or a neighboring one, you remain in the same cultural mold. In Europe we have very close cultures. The US is also very close to us. However, I feel there is a lot more variety here – at least in the states I’ve seen up to now. You get to see much more in a very short time. I’d probably have that thought much earlier in another part of the planet, like China.
Well to conclude, I suppose home is where you are the most comfortable. It’s always difficult to change home, especially to go and live in another country. It’s just so much easier to remain in the same place 🙂