My dear and long suffering reader, home is a powerful concept is it not? Whether it’s the place you were born, or a new place at which you’ve arrived, the feeling of “home” can be deeply moving. Many human-flavoured humans take tremendous pride in the place they call home. For many it becomes the inspiration for art, story and song. When it’s attacked, either figuratively or literally, folks will rise up to defend it. It’s a powerful psychological anchor, a basecamp from which life’s adventures can be launched, and a final place to rest when the spirit wearies of exploring.
Havin said all that ladies and gentlebeings, it may surprise you to learn that I have no home.
Oh I have a place to live, a roof over my head as it were. I do not share the unfortunate fate of roughly 35,000 Canadians on a given night, lacking even the most basic form of shelter – a state of affairs that you’ll agree is utterly unacceptable in a modern, wealthy nation like ours. I take no smug satisfaction in that fact, because it’s only been through the kindness of others that I’ve been able to avoid such a fate.
No, my wandering is more psychological.
I’ve never felt “at home” anywhere. There have been places that I dearly love: Toronto, Halifax, Montreal and of course Boston, but none of them ever felt like home. The same goes for my place of birth. Newfoundland represents “home” to many, and the pride and love residents have for that craggy rock jutting out into the North Atlantic is something to behold, though its a feeling I’ve never shared. No matter where I’ve travelled, I always felt like an outsider, a visitor.
I firmly believe that every place has a certain “frequency” for want of a better term – a vibe. Cities and towns are indeed like living things in their own way. In the same way that we’re drawn to some humans and not to others, we’re also attracted to some places and repulsed by others.
For some, love of homeland is inculcated from birth, a socio-cultural indoctrination that ends up becoming “truth” simply by repetition and the desire to belong. For others, the connection (or lack thereof) to a place may be based more on memories. Some humans may be drawn to a different place and find their connection fulfilled somewhere quite different from where they began.
And then there’s me, and one assumes, others like me. The wanderers, the gadabouts, those whose emotional compass provides no obvious direction to take toward a place of belonging. While I’ve felt this way since childhood, I was fully thrust onto this path a decade ago when the life I had planned was torn asunder by the loss of two humans dear to me, one of whom I planned to marry. Once the fog and pain of loss retreats to memory, the focus shifts, not to the uncertain future, nor to the painful past, but to the immediate present – to the only place we truly exist. When that happened for me, I finally embraced my own true nature, and became a wanderer.
While we romanticize the idea of the wanderer in fiction and the media, (though who can tell the difference any more?) the road is a long and lonely one. The lack of connection to a single point – a home – is jarring, no matter how much of a free spirit you think you are. You make many friends, but few close ones. Despite the advances in communication technology, it’s incredibly easy to fall out of touch with those you care about, making the road that much lonelier.
The longer I’m on this road, the more I’ve come to understand that I’m not wandering, nor am I even exploring… I’m searching. And the kicker is, I’m not even entirely sure what I’m searching for.
Until I find what I’m seeking, or indeed, figure out what it is in the first place, I’ll just keep running. The world is still a very big place, and there’s so much left to see before I can rest.
I suppose you could say I’m taking the long way home.