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BacchusSpiegeloog 415: Home

Bacchus: Homeward Bound

By December 15, 2021No Comments

Recently, on our last evening together before my dear friend was moving away, she said to me ‘I was telling my dad how I don’t know what home is anymore.’ I leaped at this comment of hers since I’d been thinking about the same thing of late. As most dads do, hers too showered her with some wisdom and a metaphor, which she consequently relayed to me. He said to her that a tree trunk is like one’s values, roots and family, and we ourselves are the branches that emerge from there, go our own ways and even blossom into fruits. Even as we move away into different directions, much like the branches, that tree trunk keeps us rooted somewhere. He had a point. We drift, we float, we allow life to push us with its waves, but we always have something that helps us keep one toe to the ground, and perhaps that is what ‘home’ is. Much like my friend though, I too feel like I don’t know what ‘home’ is anymore sometimes. 

Having been away from (what I call) ‘home’ for over a year now, I began wondering what the concept of ‘home’ really is and whether I’d call Amsterdam ‘home’. I always took it for granted that home was where I grew up and where my parents are (which, in my case, happen to coincide). However, after moving away to boarding school for my final two years of schooling and again for university, I began questioning what it really means.

Through the course of this rumination, a myriad of thoughts emerged; is home what you make something to be or does something need to just be home for you? Is home a feeling or a place or people? Can home be more than one thing? What is this vague “thing” that I allude to home as? In my quest for answers, I went around shooting questions at my friends asking them what home is to them. As always, their views and anecdotes filled my heart with warmth and my ears with unique thoughts. Above all, after very long, I sat down and asked myself the same question. As things stand, I still grapple with my thoughts on what home is to me. I found myself returning to some poetry reminding me of this theme, possibly the few remnants from my declining memory, and seeking new curated poetry from other literature lovers. And through this piece, I endeavour to drag you into this beautiful mayhem, in the attempt to find home and come home. 

In Elizabeth Brewster’s poem ‘Where I come from’, she brings out the idea of people carrying home in them, as “People are made of places”; people carry with them the residue from all the places they’ve stepped foot in. Brewster intricately describes how people are vessels of these vastly ranging smells, from the likes of the “museum smell” to “the smell of work, glue factories maybe” or the “smell of subways / crowded at rush hours.” Interestingly, this resonated closely with my friend’s concept of home. She beautifully described to me how one day she opened the door of her room here and she smelt “all of my [her] traces in one millisecond – my [her] coffee, my [her] candles…” While I speak of leaving places and using that as an excuse to not make it ‘home(ly)’, she speaks of how she believes “I [she] can make any place home” and endeavours to do so, regardless of how much time she spends there. While she revamped her new place in the span of a day, I pushed off buying even a simple shelf for over a month. In some ways, it made me question whether I was interfering with the process of a place potentially becoming home for me. Am I stuck in an endless tug of war with new places that try to become home to me? 

For several other friends as well, they’ve grown to make their constantly evolving geographical locations ‘home’ by adding their own touches and complimenting their lives with the prerequisites for what they call home. At some level, I admire their ability to find their bearings in new and unknown spaces, and take the initiative to create a physical and mental space that comfortably grounds them. While I often wonder whether I’m the one not opening my arms wide open and embracing a new place, I somewhere also believe that it takes two to tango and that a place must whisper a few loving words to me as well. 

I’m beginning to learn that life will bring a lot more geographical changes and displacement perhaps – more boxes to move, more battered furniture to resell, more favourite books to hold on to, new sets of keys and doors to get used to – and the only constant will be me. If I went back to my boarding school, which was place wise and people wise quite a ‘home’ to me, it may not be so anymore given that it is now bereft of so much that made it what it was back then. Once again, nothing is constant or the same. In light of that, I’ve realised that the concept of home must evolve and grow along with me. I’m finally finding my bearings and little bubbles of Home amidst strange and new territories. And while I tread these unknown paths, a little bag of letters from loved ones walks hand in hand with me, reminding me that I can feel at home anytime I open these traces from the past twenty odd years. 

Although I’m beginning to find these evolved meanings of what Home is to me, I still find myself wistfully singing along to Simon & Garfunkel, “I wish I was homeward bound”.

The Yellow House by Vincent van Gogh

Recently, on our last evening together before my dear friend was moving away, she said to me ‘I was telling my dad how I don’t know what home is anymore.’ I leaped at this comment of hers since I’d been thinking about the same thing of late. As most dads do, hers too showered her with some wisdom and a metaphor, which she consequently relayed to me. He said to her that a tree trunk is like one’s values, roots and family, and we ourselves are the branches that emerge from there, go our own ways and even blossom into fruits. Even as we move away into different directions, much like the branches, that tree trunk keeps us rooted somewhere. He had a point. We drift, we float, we allow life to push us with its waves, but we always have something that helps us keep one toe to the ground, and perhaps that is what ‘home’ is. Much like my friend though, I too feel like I don’t know what ‘home’ is anymore sometimes. 

Having been away from (what I call) ‘home’ for over a year now, I began wondering what the concept of ‘home’ really is and whether I’d call Amsterdam ‘home’. I always took it for granted that home was where I grew up and where my parents are (which, in my case, happen to coincide). However, after moving away to boarding school for my final two years of schooling and again for university, I began questioning what it really means.

Through the course of this rumination, a myriad of thoughts emerged; is home what you make something to be or does something need to just be home for you? Is home a feeling or a place or people? Can home be more than one thing? What is this vague “thing” that I allude to home as? In my quest for answers, I went around shooting questions at my friends asking them what home is to them. As always, their views and anecdotes filled my heart with warmth and my ears with unique thoughts. Above all, after very long, I sat down and asked myself the same question. As things stand, I still grapple with my thoughts on what home is to me. I found myself returning to some poetry reminding me of this theme, possibly the few remnants from my declining memory, and seeking new curated poetry from other literature lovers. And through this piece, I endeavour to drag you into this beautiful mayhem, in the attempt to find home and come home. 

In Elizabeth Brewster’s poem ‘Where I come from’, she brings out the idea of people carrying home in them, as “People are made of places”; people carry with them the residue from all the places they’ve stepped foot in. Brewster intricately describes how people are vessels of these vastly ranging smells, from the likes of the “museum smell” to “the smell of work, glue factories maybe” or the “smell of subways / crowded at rush hours.” Interestingly, this resonated closely with my friend’s concept of home. She beautifully described to me how one day she opened the door of her room here and she smelt “all of my [her] traces in one millisecond – my [her] coffee, my [her] candles…” While I speak of leaving places and using that as an excuse to not make it ‘home(ly)’, she speaks of how she believes “I [she] can make any place home” and endeavours to do so, regardless of how much time she spends there. While she revamped her new place in the span of a day, I pushed off buying even a simple shelf for over a month. In some ways, it made me question whether I was interfering with the process of a place potentially becoming home for me. Am I stuck in an endless tug of war with new places that try to become home to me? 

For several other friends as well, they’ve grown to make their constantly evolving geographical locations ‘home’ by adding their own touches and complimenting their lives with the prerequisites for what they call home. At some level, I admire their ability to find their bearings in new and unknown spaces, and take the initiative to create a physical and mental space that comfortably grounds them. While I often wonder whether I’m the one not opening my arms wide open and embracing a new place, I somewhere also believe that it takes two to tango and that a place must whisper a few loving words to me as well. 

I’m beginning to learn that life will bring a lot more geographical changes and displacement perhaps – more boxes to move, more battered furniture to resell, more favourite books to hold on to, new sets of keys and doors to get used to – and the only constant will be me. If I went back to my boarding school, which was place wise and people wise quite a ‘home’ to me, it may not be so anymore given that it is now bereft of so much that made it what it was back then. Once again, nothing is constant or the same. In light of that, I’ve realised that the concept of home must evolve and grow along with me. I’m finally finding my bearings and little bubbles of Home amidst strange and new territories. And while I tread these unknown paths, a little bag of letters from loved ones walks hand in hand with me, reminding me that I can feel at home anytime I open these traces from the past twenty odd years. 

Although I’m beginning to find these evolved meanings of what Home is to me, I still find myself wistfully singing along to Simon & Garfunkel, “I wish I was homeward bound”.

The Yellow House by Vincent van Gogh

Nitya Shah

Author Nitya Shah

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