Home

“My home is a tent in the bush.
My home is a descending elevator, the back of a van, a library table.
My home is the back seat of a car with the window rolled down.
My home is a dusty, abandoned construction site.

My home is a scorching hot roadside.
My home is a million dollar mansion with a private beach.
It’s a 13th story apartment in the most expensive city in the world.
My home is the sweaty backroom of a small restaurant in a tiny village.
And it’s the attic of a bar.
My home is the lullaby roar of crashing waves.
My home is the susurration of a million insects.
My home is the reek of pig piss from a passing truck.
My home is vegetable Thali served on banana leaf.
My home is a cigarette with coffee for breakfast.
My home is beneath the moon.
My home is any moment of woe or weal.
My home is any moment.”
~A.F.

***

The question “What do you do?” in working life is the equivalent of “Where are you from?” on the road. That inevitable inquiry that is just so reliable. It’s easy, comfortable, breaks the ice without risk. And it’s a wince-inducing bore.

I’ll ask that question to evacuate awkward silence as a jet fighter would use his rocket seat to escape a doomed craft. The two situations occur with similar frequency. That’s because there’s always, always something more meaningful to talk about.

But still the question charms with its apparently intriguing relevance.

‘…Everyone came from somewhere…’

And it offers the easy segue into home-spun yarns.

‘…Perhaps they’d like to discuss that place…’

Fair enough.

Not me. I’ve traveled with the intention to de-culture myself. To fashion for myself a more cosmopolitan persona. To tailor-make the vestments of my identity with the threads of a hundred foreign customs. In other words, to shed my attachment to where I’m from.

So when people ask me “Where are you from?” the question feels cheap. The answer: a forced recitation of a technical detail that is misleading. My priorities, beliefs, viewpoints, and qualities arise from no one source. There is no nation, region, or community from which I exclusively define myself.

So perhaps a better question is “Where is home?”

Ask me that and you’ll get a spontaneously recollected story of a recent sublime moment.   And the way I express it will be a genuine reflection of who I am in that moment. You’ll avoid having to swallow a rehearsed speech about the large city my hometown sits near.

A hometown that doesn’t really feel like home anymore at all. Because the truth is my definition of home has expanded as a result of my travels.

Finding comfort in foreign lands eating foreign foods; relating to, and befriending, foreign people of all backgrounds and nationalities; opening myself up to the diverse cultures of the world; and deciphering what aspects of a person are society implanted, and which are more deeply rooted; These things have allowed me to find home wherever I go. Finding common traits eliminates fear, engenders trust, and produces the belonging of home anywhere I travel.

Now the Earth, and everywhere on it, is my home. Just like the people, and all living organisms, are my family. This is a perspective I’ve reached by eliminating the insubstantial boundaries manufactured by culture, and one I can argue from pure reason.

Maybe home is that intangible feeling of comfort and belonging. Since comfort can be expanded with greater breadth of experience. And since belonging can be expanded by dissolving the boundaries of culture, nation, class, religion, etc. Then home can be expanded indefinitely.

Thank you for reading.

-C

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