Friday, April 22, 2016

Home Is Where the Heart is...?

They say home is where the heart is. I don't know who "they" are, but I have to admit - they're right. By definition, home is where a person permanently lives, but there are a plethora of connotations that perhaps better portray what the word home means to most people.

There's nothing like being trapped in three
feet of snow with your favourite people.
I think that, first and foremost, home isn't necessarily a place. Home can be a person or a number of people. Sometimes, you meet someone and you get those warm fuzzies inside that you'd heard about as a kid but was never entirely convinced existed until that moment. You don't know how or why, but you feel like you've known this person your entire life, that by their side was where you were supposed to be from the very beginning. That feeling you get when you're with that person, and the fact that that feeling doesn't go away no matter how much time you spend with them, that's home. 

Abstract as it may be, I also believe that memories can serve as some sort of "home." Some of my fondest memories include wandering down the streets of Prague at dusk, a trdelník in one hand and a koláč in the other (Czech Republic has good food, alright?), celebrating Finland winning a gold
medal in ice hockey with an arena full of Finnish people in Helsinki, and hiking with my best friends for what felt like hours to find Norway's most popular waterfall. As temporary as these moments were, and thereby essentially the exact opposite of the definition of "home," these memories will always serve as something of a makeshift home for me. 

However, if you want to try to be at least a bit literal to the definition, places, of course, can be home to a person. A house doesn't make a home, though. Home doesn't have to be fours walls and a roof; where I'm currently living, of course, has these things, but I don't at all feel at home there. Instead, there are other places I feel at home. Sitting out by the water in Skeppsholmen feels like home to me. Hovet Arena during a Djurgården ice hockey match feels like home to me. A little dock by the river in Rovaniemi, Finland feels like home to me. 

These people, places, and memories have all captured a piece of my heart, which is why they all, to some extent, feel like home to me.

"Home is whenever I'm with you."
So what do you do when pieces of your heart are scattered around the world?

It's a tricky question.

In a sense, you almost have to start asking yourself where you belong. You feel so at home in so many places, and that sensation alone is one that simultaneously convinces you that you don't truly belong in any place. Really, it's a paradox and a wild ride of thoughts and emotions.

I think being abroad so long provoked this question, or perhaps this identity crisis, in me. What do I mean whenever I say "I want to go home"? Do I mean I want to be with my family in the States? With Ana and Silvia in Spain? Ida and Pauliina in Finland? Štěpánka in Czech Republic? Or right here in Stockholm? Or am I longing to relive one of my fondest memories?

It's a difficult question to answer solely because the answer is always different and because the word has such a different and personal meaning to everyone.

So what does home mean to you? It's something worth thinking about.