1 EAGLETON NOTES: Where is Home?

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Monday, 28 March 2016

Where is Home?

Home is such an emotive word. It can conjure up so many ideas and so many emotions and, of course, it tends to vary with cultures and individuals. 

This morning I woke early and read a blog post by Katie Macleod.  Katie, who hails from Lewis and whose parents live in this township of Eagleton, is the journalist, traveller and expat Scot (living in the USA) behind the blog Stories My Suitcase Could Tell.

The post I read this morning was entitled What Happens When an Expat Goes Home and it was followed by another post with a short travel video biopic of her home: The Hebrides.

I've written about home before and I recalled ending a post in 2013 with the words "My birthplace was entirely beyond my control.  Where I choose to call my home isn't.  Whatever my nationality may be on my passport I am a Hebridean Kiwi in my heart."

To me Home is Lewis. It is where my heart returns from wherever I happen to have been. It is where, when the plane touches down, I know I belong. It's where, when the ferry arrives I drive onto the soil that will claim me when I'm gone. There is no logical rhyme or reason to that because, although I've lived here the majority of my life,  I was born and brought up elsewhere. But I have no family, friends or any emotional bond to the place of my birth. I have all of those things here on Lewis.

However, having spent, nearly 10 years living 6 months in New Zealand and 6 months at home here on Lewis the subject of my emotional home is one that has often been in my thoughts. Oddly when I left Napier for my first journey home after living there for 6 months I was very emotional just as I was when the plane landed on Lewis where I felt that I was Home and that was it. As the years went on the emotions for both places got stronger when I arrived and left each one. However because I always expected to return the emotions stabilised. I was always going to see the other again.

Until, that is, I had an enforced longer period back home on Lewis over the last two years. I’ve just returned from 6 weeks instead of 6 months in New Zealand. Whilst I was there it was as if I’d never been away. I felt that I could happily live there. But when I left I just got on the plane and left. It was hard leaving friends and The Family but all of a sudden it was somewhere I had visited and not my second home.

The plane set down on Lewis and it was as if I’d never been away. That’s how I think it will always be from now on. Time will tell.

What does home mean to you? 

34 comments:

  1. An interesting question. For me "home" might be something historical with Mum and Dad and my three brothers - the first eighteen years of my life and somewhere I returned to endlessly afterwards. However, now there's no reason to go back and I know that the "home" I had there is forever lost. So this house I live in in Sheffield with our things around us and a big garden provides a newer sense of "home". It is where our children were raised and where so many people have come and gone and where I have gradually been growing old. In a more general sense, I certainly think of Yorkshire as "home".

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    1. That's interesting YP. In Scotland, or certainly in the Islands, people don't ask where you live they ask where you stay. My house is where I stay and is, in that sense, home. However I've only lived in this house for 23 years out of the 4 decades I've been on Lewis and my children were not brought up in it. So I think of Lewis as Home and my house as where I stay for the moment. We obviously both share a sense of stability in our definition of home.

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  2. Graham, I'm so glad you really do feel at home now. I think it's rather nice that the predictive texts for "home" and "good" are the same. Home is such a lovely word, too. It means so much more than just a place. One day, we may have to move away from lovely Devizes - our home - to live nearer family in Surrey. I try not to think about it (nothing against Surrey, of course, except that with the house prices as they are, we shall probably be living in a small hut).

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    1. Frances that's an interesting discovery: "home" and "good" because I think we would all love to associate one with the other. I do hope that you manage to keep a sense of home wherever you may be.

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  3. I guess "home is where the heart is" is a little too much of a cliche, but I suppose that holds true for everyone whether it's referring to loved ones or the felling for a specific landscape/place. Interestingly I was having a conversation with Bryony the other day where we both referred to going home with the meaning of visiting parents.

    Thanks for the links to Katie's blog as well. The travel video was worth the visit itself (her writing is also excellent) as I never need an excuse to listen to Runrig, and her video is probably a better visual representation for that song than the official video!

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    1. Thank you Mark that's yet another approach to home although I think the cliché is such because it is also a truth.

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  4. Maybe I'll write my own blog post on this topic some day... What comes to mind just now is a memory from 31 years ago, when I was travelling 'home' to where I was living then (after having been 'home' visiting my parents in the town where I was born) - suddenly thinking that "one day this won't be going 'home' any more". This turned out true, as a year later I moved to where I live now; and thirty years later, here is still home. Here is also where I have most of my historical family roots (grandparents etc). Strangely, I've always felt that I'm not likely to ever go back to live in the town/area where I was born myself. But possibly I could go back to the town where I lived between 20-30 and again feel at home there. But more likely I suppose that I will remain where I am.

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    1. I suppose, Monica, many of us at one time or another have suddenly realised that 'home' has changed as we grow up and leave home.

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  5. Great comments on topic that we all live with. I was born elsewhere and I always call it home. However when I go back there is very little connection. I moved here in 1969 and this is home and I don't want to leave.

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  6. I agree, an interesting question. I was born on the Canadian prairie, but left when I was a child, and though my parents and I went back forth frequently, I never felt it was home. At least not after my beloved Grandmother Minnie died.

    Western Washington is where I have lived most of my life, in a house which my husband and I built together. This is home, and as you say, when I step off the plane, it feels as if I belong here, where my daughter and son-in-law live. Now, we have developed new roots, in New Mexico, where our only granddaughter is teaching at New Mexico State University. She loves it there - loves the weather, loves her job, loves her friends. We are happy for her, though we miss her sometimes. But texting and phoning and emails keep us all close.

    There is also my spiritual home, which I think of as England. Though I have never lived there, each time we visit, and I step off the plane, I feel I am slipping on my English persona like a well-loved coat. I am fortunate to have many inlaws there, all of whom I adore, and who seem to love me back. This makes me a fortunate woman indeed.

    So just where is home. I have heard people say, "Home is where I am." And perhaps that's the best way to look at it. Wherever I am is home.

    Much love to you. Hope you had a lovely Easter. xoxox DeeDee

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    1. Thank you DeeDee. You sound very much as though you have got the question of home pretty well sussed.

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  7. Beautiful video of the Hebrides - thank you for sharing it.
    I guess it is possible to create two places where you feel "at home". Perhaps your comment about the dirt is the giveaway - where would you be buried if you were travelling when you passed away? I hear many people talking about where ashes should be returned to - or bodies flown back too and I always feel it should be where they lived and had people they loved there. I have called many places home but I hope no one ever sends my remains away from here and back to any of them!

    Perhaps having a base is what allows us to travel and enjoy other places - being rootless is not for everyone. We need a place to return to for nurturing and stability. I'm sure Katie won't live in Manhattan for ever but then life in Lewis cannot provide everything for her if she cannot feel fulfilled in her work.
    Very thought provoking post - as usual!
    Hope you had a lovely weekend :) All the best for the knee op.

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    1. Thanks Fiona. I'd hate to think of being rootless even though my emotional home is not where my roots would conventionally be held to be. A base is certainly an emotional necessity for me.

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  8. I don't call myself Georgia Girl With An English Heart for nothing! Georgia is my home but then, Eastbourne and London seem like home also. It is a strange thing I know, but it is is true.

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    1. Kay often the strangest things are true. I'm happy for you that you feel that way.

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  9. I've lived for well over half my life in France, and to me it has become 'home'. However, I did return to my true native 'home' of Lingfield in Surrey a few years back, and although it still had a very special tie, I could no longer contemplate living there on account of all the aircraft noise from nearby Gatwick airport. It used to be an almost perfect location (a very pretty village just south of London, etc), but now it's dormitory town, and noisy.

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    1. It's interesting to me Cro that you still regard the place where you spent your formative years as home. Were you actually born there.

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    2. Yes, and spent the first 14 years of my life there. It's imprinted as 'home'.

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    3. That's interesting Cro. I was born and brought up in Liverpool: a city so diverse in it's cultures that most people seemed to regard somewhere else as their emotional 'home' even if they were Liverpudlians through and through.

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  10. My life seems to be an exceptionally lucky one in that I still live in the same town where I was born, and love living here, in Ludwigsburg just a few miles north of Stuttgart in southern Germany.
    I have many (although certainly not all) of my friends and the closest family all living within walking distance, my work is done either at the home office or two short train rides away. In this town, I know nearly every street corner and building, and have observed it change in places and stay the same in other places for the last 40-odd years.
    But every year, when I travel to Yorkshire, I get on the train at Manchester Airport and, as soon as the Pennines are in sight, I feel as if I am coming home, too. Ripon in a smaller and Yorkshire in a wider sense have become second home to me, with the family there just as loving as the one I have here.

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    1. Meike it would seem that you have similar feelings for Ripon and Yorkshire as the feelings I have for Napier and New Zealand (which has a smaller population that Yorkshire).

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  11. Where is Home? Sometimes I wish I knew but generally I'm happy wandering or at least having the ability to wander relatively unfettered.

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    1. Adrian you seem to me to be a person, more often than not perhaps, relatively content in his own skin when it comes to your physical location. I suppose that way you gather no moss. I like moss. It lines the nest.

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  12. A very thought provoking post. I was born in England, grew up in Sydney and now live in Brisbane, To me Brisbane is home. It is where we settled and had a family and worked for 30+ years. I get that feeling of joy and comfort when the plane lands in Brisbane. I am fond of Sydney, it is where I grew up and where my parents are buried and where one of my daughters lives. I think of Switzerland as my second home as that is my husbands homeland and we lived their for a while. I have a soft spot for England because that is where I lived as a small child and it is my birth country but I would not want to live there or anywhere except Brisbane.(at the moment)

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    1. Diane you seem very comfortable in your Brisbane home. May it long be the case for you.

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  13. That is very interesting, Graham. While I have been out of sight & mind I have been wondering how you would be reacting to returning to Lewis after NZ. I'm glad it felt like home when you got back. I think myself that it is possible to feel really close to places and almost believe they're home, but then eventually you do choose, and it becomes clear which is the real home. Like falling in love, or even, more prosaically, buying a house. You sort of knew which was The One, after all....

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    1. Jenny as someone who has lived in so many places you did go through my mind whilst I was writing that. I think falling in love was rather more hazardous in my case.

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  14. I have lived over half my life where I now call home. It has taken a while - my hometown for the first half of my life is 700kms away, very picturesque full of mountains and valleys, and held many emotions. but travelling back through there last week, it didn't feel like home at all. Home is now the flat open plains and huge horizons of the Riverina in Australia. I have really grown to love the openness and sparseness of my new home.

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    1. Lynda thank you. For some reason your comment made me realise that I have come to the conclusion - in fact I think I arrived there a long time ago - that for many of us it's a complex and often subconscious process defining home. For some, and I think it is very much the case with Scots and Highlanders and Islanders in particular there is an emotional tie to 'home' that is different from that experienced by most of us and is not connected to where we live. Some of that has rubbed off on me.

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  15. Home is where the heart is and for me it's my island home of Barbados always always always.
    Whenever I travel and I step on to the airport tarmac on my return I am always filled up with emotions of belonging and tears are in my eyes....yes I know too emotional but I love my home.
    What a lovely video...I also enjoyed the one on Santurce because I have visited as well.
    Perhaps I will try some video editing and post a video soon.

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    1. Perhaps Virginia it has something to do with being an Islander.

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  16. If I'm honest...and I'm going to be honest because I mostly am honest, honestly.

    Gympie, the town of my childhood and teenage years, and then, again, for four years between 1998 and 2002 up to when I moved here to the Mount Tamborine (14 years ago on 13th April - times flies!) will always be "home" to me; Gympie and the Noosa area...I have two homes in my heart.

    I've never really felt "at home" here on the hill...and I guess I never will.

    Don't get me wrong...I like it here on Tamborine Mountain; it's a lovely place to live...but it will never be "home" to me...not within my heart.

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    1. That's a sad thing to read Lee. I've always said that if I was in New Zealand and someone pulled up the drawbridge I would be content and doubtless have a happy life but I wouldn't be 'home' (and of course I'd be devastated if I couldn't see my family and friends).

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