After two months of travel, you’d think I’d long for home.
Yes. And no.
Home, I think, is the place where we feel most fully ourselves. Or at least that’s the concept of home which we idealize whether that encompasses the geography, the culture, and the people of a specific place. More accurately, it likely encompasses all of these elements and more.
Vancouver’s been my home since I was twelve and the more I travel, the more I appreciate how lucky I am to have lived most of my life here. Not only is it blessed with a temperate climate – I’ve missed most of this dismal summer according to the reports I’ve received – but our setting, encircled by mountains and ocean is brilliantly uplifting.
We have greenery, we have space, we have clean air to breathe – in general – and we have clear water to drink. We have a diversity of cultures that makes you feel part of the world at the same time that you feel free to be yourself.
And yet, when I travel, I wonder if I have found my home. Is the appeal of the away for me simply the distance from the inertia and demands of day-to-day life as a mother, a student, a teacher, a homemaker, an elected official? Or is there a deeper resonance in Europe to who I am as an individual? Is what I feel simply an echo of what everyone else feels when they travel or is this a particular issue for me?
And while this may seem to you to be no more than navel-gazing, it is potentially the theme of what I will be proposing for the MA thesis which I’m scheduled to begin this September.
The first trip I took on my own was in 1983 to Greece following the completion of my BA degree at UBC. This current expedition, which is scheduled to wrap up in four days, represents another installment in a three-decade serial of travel experiences. Trips I’ve taken on my own, with friends, with family, as a single, as one of a couple, as a mother and an aunt. From my early twenties till now.
That’s a lot of territory to cover both in terms of chronology and experience as well as personal growth and development.
I don’t know if travel has made me a better person, a different person, a less-rooted person, or if its simply been a privilege to be away. Fun, interesting, exciting, but fleeting with no lasting effect aside from leaving me with a lifetime of memories and stories with which to bore my acquaintances and relatives.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to answer that although I think it’s likely, at some point, that I will live abroad for an extended time in order to explore these questions further and maybe develop a more secure sense of who I am and my place in the world.
A place I might call home which, in the end, may not prove to be geographic at all but really just a state of mind.