Home is a Feeling

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February 3rd 2016
Published: February 3rd 2016
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For the past two years, since I packed my boxes and left my flat in Torquay, I haven’t had a fixed address. I haven’t stayed in one place for more than three months at a time. I’ve bounced around countless countries in Europe, living and working nomadically. Somehow, and unexpectedly, my life became a series of one-way tickets, not many returns, and a strong feeling of displacement. Yet, I’m preparing to do the same thing for the rest of the year. What I’ve learnt, amidst packing my bags and moving around so frequently, is that home is, without a doubt, a feeling.

I have spent the summer back in Australia and am getting ready to embark on a one-way ticketed journey back to Europe in less than a month. There were many reasons I wanted to be home for the summer; for Christmas, to see my friends, to enjoy the Aussie sunshine. And one reason that was somewhat difficult to come to terms with: to get my childhood house ready for sale. This is the house I grew up in, that my family never moved from, that I left when I was 21 to live away from it for the first time. It hasn’t felt like a home for many years. However, there are still flecks of my childhood scattered around it that, whether I like it or not, were part of defining who I am today.

As I am about to pack the last of my books and take down photos and teddies that have adorned the walls of my room that was mine for so long, I reflect on how it makes it easier to go abroad and to be a wandering gypsy when there are absolutely no roots holding me down anymore. As I said, this house in Lara hasn’t been my home for so long. Since my brother died and my parents separated, the concept of a family unit has been greatly disillusioned. The house itself holds many memories of a complicated childhood that are less than positive. While there are inevitable mixed emotions about selling a childhood home, the whole process is ultimately giving me closure.

Now, because I know that home is so much a feeling, I am surprisingly excited to live a more settled and permanent life in Australia after this year of adventures. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my summer at in Australia and I have made sure to take opportunities to make it as fulfilling and meaningful as possible. From being around friends, both old and new, to going back to my personal care work job and volunteering with the Edmund Rice community once again, all of this made me appreciate so strongly what an amazing life I have here. More importantly, it made me happy to genuinely realise I have so much to come back to, something that has been missing the last two times I’ve gone to Europe.

The feelings that draw me abroad and propel me forward into the unexplored unknown still resonate, but less strongly. I go abroad this year to work once more in France at American Village, the company that first gave way to my gypsy soul back in 2014. This time, I return to American Village not just to teach English to school groups of French children, but to be a site director. This role is much more settled, has much more responsibilities, and feels much more like an employment opportunity not just a convenient way to travel. I genuinely look forward to staying at the one site for a whole three months, to folding my clothes, and to leaving my toothbrush in one place for more than a week.

I love travel beyond words, but I am getting tired. I haven’t craved long-term stability for so long, but I feel I am almost there. When my job finishes in France in June, I intend to make the most of my freedom for the rest of the year. I won’t be content to truly settle until my wandering feet have found their way around Africa. I need one more big adventure, and this year will be it. Yet after that, I need something different.

Anyone who has known me in the last two years and a half years since I finished my teaching degree at university will have heard me say something along the lines of ‘…then I’ll come back and get a real job…’ Evidently, this hasn’t happened after a collective total of 18 months of travel since finishing that degree. I’ve never really been sure what I’ve been searching for in this life abroad. There have been times I thought I was just running away, from a difficult childhood, complicated relations with my parents, the break-up with my boyfriend a few years ago. However, I know now that I was never running away. I was simply running towards things I had wanted for years. Every part of my education and interest since I was 15 had always been steering me towards an adventurous life abroad. From learning French at high school to studying history and literature and gaining a global perspective at university, life in my hometown was never going to content me. It was always just a matter of figuring out how I would see the world, how I would experience it, and where it would take me. The travel bug had been lying dormant for many years, crushed under circumstances that didn’t allow it to flourish. Now it’s certainly had its time to shine and I receive contentment knowing it will never really go away.

While I look forward to a more simplified and settled life in Melbourne when I return, I know that the desire to wander and explore won’t leave me. There are still so many parts of the world and so many cultures that I want to experience. This doesn’t conflict with my excitement at the thought of unpacking my boxes for the first time in three years when I return and find an apartment for me and my cat. Rather, they are at one with each other. I have realised, after funding my life abroad by working at camps and freelance writing , that anything is possible.

Any goal I set, any mission I take on, any adventure I want to have - it can all be possible. I have no fear of the future anymore because I know that if you want something bad enough, you’ll work damn hard for it. I certainly have in the last few years. The year before me is not filled with certainties. After June, all I have is ideas and hopes. This doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

The best lesson life has given me is to simply trust yourself and follow the path that presents itself at the time. Trusting myself in this manner is not something I thought I would ever be able to do. When I think back a few years to when I was incapable of trusting my own thoughts, I appreciate so much how I have grown and changed in the best ways possible.

Traveling is truly putting yourself at the mercy of the world. It should be terrifying, but at this point I take solace in believing I’ll make the right decision at the time. And I will end up just where I’m meant to be.


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