Where is Home?
1. Home is a small town in South Wales, where my immediate family live and where I grew up.
2. Home is Fremantle in Western Australia, where I felt healthier than I’ve ever been and made great friends.
3. Home is Broome, where I discovered a person inside me I’d never even known existed, faced my fears and fell in love.
4. Home is Auckland, where I am right now, looking for work and a place to rest my head at night.
5. Home is wherever I can get my hands on a prawn cocktail flavour crisp sandwich.
People say that travel helps you to ‘find yourself’. Well, people are wrong. Or, at least, wrong to generalise. I have done completely the opposite. I think I had a slightly better grasp on who I was when surrounded by a structured society to shape and mould me into who they expected me to be. Suddenly I am a nomad with absolutely no idea who ‘I’ am, and even less idea of where to call home these days.
When I left the UK, 812 days ago, I was leaving home. It’s where I had family and friends and a job to go back to. Only 9 hours into my epic journey, my first airport stop-off, and I was in floods of tears, “I’ve made a terrible mistake! What if I’m doing the wrong thing and I can never have my old life back? I realise now, home is definitely 100% Wales, I can’t stay away for 18 months, I’ll be home in 5!” I was blind to the path ahead of me and couldn’t imagine a future anywhere but the place I knew best, surrounded by the people who knew everything about my life and understood me.
Eight months later, I was leaving home again, although I didn’t know it at the time. This time it was in Perth. Fremantle, to be more precise. I didn’t make the connection that this was another home, until I was making my plans to head back there after a while in Broome, when I referred to my trip back to Fremantle as ‘going HOME to make some money’. Once back in civilisation, I met up with all the newly familiar faces I’d missed while on my four months chasing cows in the Kimberleys, revisited my favourite beach, read a book in my favourite cafe and got back into the fitness routine my body had been visibly missing so much. I found two jobs I loved and my friendship circle grew again, adding to my feeling of love for the area. Leaving this place a second time was even harder than the first. I knew I hadn’t seen the last of my beautiful second home.
But I had to do it. I couldn’t stay away. Third home was calling! As it turned out, chasing cows in the Kimberleys was not just a visa requirement for me, it was a new passion. I had felt just as tearful leaving that cattle station in the rear-view mirror at the end of the season as I had felt about leaving my family in the UK the previous year. I had loved being back in Fremantle, but I knew that when winter came knocking on my suburban door, threatening to ruin my healthy morning routine, my love would dwindle, and Broome was my next biggest love. It also helps that when Perth is getting into winter, Broome is just starting its dry season. The whole time I had been in Fremantle, Broome had been the place I was talking about whenever I mentioned ‘going home’. That station was a place that made me feel fearless, somewhere I was away from the rest of the world and felt completely at peace with the total lack of civilisation, somewhere I had, unexpectedly, left a little piece of my heart.
Leaving Broome a second time, was something I’m still not certain I’m happy about. But it’s done now, and home, currently, is Auckland, New Zealand. I call it home because there’s no other name for it. It’s current, it’s where my ‘stuff’ lives, and where I live, therefore, it must be home, right? Hmm, I don’t feel it yet. We’ll see. But sometimes, you find home in the most unexpected places. (Please visit Adulthood… if I must for a truly inspiring story of two completely different worlds becoming home for the same person.)
In future though, I will be sure to check that the local popular crisp (or chip) brand of my ‘homes’ produces a prawn cocktail flavoured option, because if I can’t butter two slices of white bread, and crunch them together around half a packet of fishy crisps, then surely, I am not truly at home at all!
And no quote would be more perfect for this post, than the one already featured at the top of my homepage…
“You will never be truly at home again…”
Where do you call home, and why?