At home

Being at home is a feeling that is deterministic defined for persons who live all their life in a unique place: in that place they feel at home and not elsewhere. This is the place where they work, the one that they know best; it receives also a higher significance if they do not plan to leave it in the near future. This feeling is much more complicated for persons that have lived for a long time in different places. Its differentiation is finer and its perspectives are multiple. In this text I will try to expose a few thoughts about these fluctuations and perspectives.

I would distinguish between two types of the “being at home” feeling. The one is experienced at home, and I will call it affirmative. The other type is the displaced “at home” feeling: it appears in means of an illusion at that place, where the current residence of the subject is being found.

It is very interesting that the latter comes totally spontaneously, triggered by trivial causes whereas the former is always expected. It happened to me while being in Berlin, to think for a moment that I saw mountains in the horizon (they were mere clouds) and for a second I felt at home. Or once I heard a guest from Greece speaking in a way that I only heard in Thessaloniki (Greece) during my first study years; this forgotten element made me feel that I was there, back.

Small trivial factors that were never noticed when someone was living in a specific place, gain an unconscious reference function when they disappear and suddenly appear for a moment. But the most interesting event is this special feeling which they awake: it is a displaced feeling of being at home, that can only be experienced when the person lives elsewhere for many years. It is a mix of familiarity and belongingness, that has been never activated before. The first time it appears is also of great importance, because it makes one realize the covered time distance.

The affirmative form takes place during a temporary return, especially if this is in the form of vacations. Revisiting the place of a previous residence while being in a vacation mood, a contrast is caused: the places where one now stands as a relaxed observer are exactly the places where the same person was once in a hurry, was working, feeling happiness, sadness, was in one word “active”. This contrast in time between activity and inactivity combined with the identicalness of the place is the gate to several important and trivial recollections. Only then one can understand, why a certain place is felt as home.

For wandering persons, every place they lived, where they experienced many and important parts of their lives, is a sort of home, each one in its own manner. This is not only dependent of the past, i.e. of the memories related to that place, but of the present as well. This is constituted by the relatives and friends that live there. It is the most important part of the home reference. A place could have almost no meaning, if the living part that is linked to the subject were not there. Sometimes, especially with regard to friends, more than presence is needed; if the respective life tracks of the persons acquire great distance between them, then no common references to the past can save the contact and the subsequent home-feeling.

As you have maybe already noticed, home is associated in my examples with a left home. For wandering persons, home is always left. The current home will gain its symbols after being left as well; then the projections of the experiences that took place there will be filtered through its currently unimportant localities.

4 Responses to “At home”

  1. Averell Dalton says:

    For someone, like me, whose family came from the Far West, who associates with things typical of the Far West as one’s own, but who grew up in various cities with different time zones among them, spent most of one’s years in another place which, somehow, didn’t fit in one’s conscience as “home” (in the affirmative sense); who left the city in the North to go South and has finally understood the “Northern” city as home in the ‘displaced’ sense – what can I say? I think I really understand what you mean. Thanks for the lovely post!

  2. Maestro says:

    So, answer me this question, please: What do you understand in “There’s no place like home”?

  3. Harti Law says:

    Going Home
    (music adapted from Dvorak’s 9th Symphony)

    1. Going home. Going home. I’m a-going home.
    Quiet-like some still day, I’m just going home.
    It’s not far, just close by, through an open door.
    Work all done, cares laid by, Going to fear no more;

    Mother’s there expecting me, Father’s waiting, too.
    Lot’s of folks gathered there. All the friends I knew.

    2. Morning star lights the way, restless dream all done.
    Shadows gone, break of day, real life just begun.

    There’s no break, there’s no end, just a-living on;
    Wide awake, with a smile, going on and on.

    Going home. Going home, I’m just going home.
    It’s not far, just close by, through an open door.

  4. a_droseltis says:

    @Maestro

    I think that this sentence expresses the successful fulfilment of the longing for return. Its success is realised in finding familiarity, safety and received care. Of course this is said only by people who define home in a unique sense. They may have wandered, but did not spend much time in a place, so that it can share the home idea as well.

    @Harti Law

    Thanks for the lovely song! ;)