But there are a million and one places out there that are all different from home.
I had an interesting chat today, one of many interesting chats with complete strangers that happen naturally when you are travelling and sleeping in a different place each night. What made this one particularly interesting is that we were discussing the notion of homesickness, and in particular my lack of it so far.
Home is a pretty universally accepted and understood term, and relates to where you are from, the place you have chosen to put down roots and make connections. It is based on connections and ties, both emotional and physical. It seems to me that the longer you stay in a certain place, the more connections you make. Friends and a part time job turn into relationships and a full time job, which in turn morph over the years into marriage, mortgage, a career, children, all of which serve to bind you to a certain area, and as a result you really get to know a place, and everybody in it.
All of my family and a lot of my old school friends are still in a little town called Long Eaton, near Nottingham in the East Midlands. I was born there, and lived there for a long time, but to be quite honest nowhere up there has really felt like home since a couple of years after I left for university, partly because so much up there has changed since I left that the environment I knew and grew up in no longer exists.
I left Long Eaton when I was twenty years old for university, and headed south to Bournemouth – sunnier climes and beach life beckoned, but I always assumed I’d return to the midlands once my degree was over. Needless to say the pull of living near the beach with the most sunshine hours in the UK won through and I never returned north.
Although I’ve been living in Bournemouth for the last ten years, a lot of my university friends left after their degrees, and I tended to move house most years, from one rented place to another, meaning I never really got too attached to any one part of town. And no friendship groups stayed completely intact for too long, with a few exceptions.
What all of this boils down to is that for me, there is no one place in the UK that really feels like home anymore, and so nowhere to feel homesick for. Of course I miss my family and friends, and there parts of lots of places I miss. I miss DJing at the awesome pubs in Brighton with my friends there, I miss beers in the local microbrewery in Bournemouth, I miss the pasties in the Square and Compass in the Purbecks, and long walks with friends and their dogs in the New Forest. I miss surfing in Boscombe, nights out in London, seeing my family in the Midlands, and a whole host of other things, but these people and places are scattered far and wide across the UK, with some friends even in Europe or further afield.
You could be forgiven for thinking that not having one special place that really feels like home is something to be upset about, but you’d be wrong. What it actually means for me is that ‘home’ is made up of everywhere I’ve been and everyone I know up to now. Pretty much everywhere feels like home. Within hours of being in New Zealand it already felt as comfortable and familiar to me as any other place I’ve lived or visited, and when the place you are right now feels like home, its pretty hard to get homesick.