It’s been well over a year since I sat on a plane and felt the energy and excitement that only comes with travelling to a new place. I can’t remember the last time I spent an entire year in the UK.
I’ve always worked hard to pay for my travel. Saving every penny. Working multiple jobs and always passing on the opportunity for a new pair of shoes, or a new phone contract in favour of the taste of the air in another country. From working 70 hours a week across four jobs when I was eighteen, to choosing budget travel over luxury to squeeze in a few more days away. And always choosing experiences over presents birthday after birthday. I’ve reaped the rewards of working hard in exchange for freedom. So, like many others, this year has been different. But travel means nothing to me if staying at home means other people can be safe.
Safe At Home
I’ve always loved being at home. I’ve never worried about staying put. I can sniff out an adventure from my front room and I can find joy in the smallest of days. But I think I’ll always have an insatiable appetite for new cities, new beaches and new bars. There will always be streets to explore, people to meet and views to get lost in.
Yet 2020 has reminded me how much I love where I live, and how grateful I am to have a place to call home. For now, there really is no place like home. But what does home mean? And how do we know when we’ve found it?
Where Do You Feel At Home?
It still amazes me how quickly places can feel like ‘home’ whilst you’re travelling. Give it twelve hours and even an aeroplane seat feels like the respite you’ve craved after a few laps of the rows and rows of bored passengers. Do you know what I mean?
Your hotel during a city break feels safe and heavenly when you’ve walked miles all day. Yet merely twelve hours before you didn’t even know it existed. A bed in a busy hostel feels like it’s ‘yours’ even after a one-night stay. And longer-term stays make you feel like a resident as you roll your eyes and resent another backpacker ‘moving in’.
Like that time, I lived in a jail (hostel) in New Zealand for four weeks. No, really, it was a jail that was turned into a hostel. Or that time I lived in a garden shed in South Africa. My goodness, those places felt like home.
Or the time my husband and I camped on the floor of my brother’s room in Australia for a week. It was as weird as it sounds. But we had less than £100 left in the bank and we’re heading home early unless we found work, let alone try to pay rent. We carried a mattress from an op shop (an Aussie charity shop) across town on a skateboard and each day, I’d stack up the mattresses and it would turn into our sofa. We’d turn our backpacks into cushions. It soon felt like home after a long day of job hunting.
You’ll be please to know we moved out of my brothers’ room and moved next door when his housemate finally left. I made bedside tables from Aldi cardboard boxes and I spent my first paycheck on a coffee table, three chairs and a bookcase. I decorated the walls with photos and paintings. It was one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever lived in.
I still think of it regularly, remembering the way the sun dripped across the tiles. It was always so light. I’d drag the armchair onto the balcony and listen to the parrot that lived in the tree at the end of the plot. I read my books whilst the sunset, tasting the ocean air that lay just beyond the row of houses in front. Gosh, it felt so much like home. I was so sad when my brother left, and we had to sell our furniture and say goodbye to our little flat. But it will always be a home I look back on fondly and besides, we left there to move even closer to the sea.
In our next Australian home, I could hear the waves crashing from my bed. As I slowly drifted to sleep, I’d dream of hot days on the beach and evenings watching the sun dip into the horizon. I’d wake and walk into the dream. This was another shared house, but this time with a pool. Now that felt like home. We even had hangers in the wardrobe and a desk!
But it was the crazy housemates that added
the cherry. And the cream. And the glass (let’s face it, we didn’t come with
kitchen equipment!). And they made it home. With beers on a
Saturday, Monday any night. Parties and trips to the footie, that time is a
story for another day, but that place felt so much like home.
I’m so lucky to have had homes all over the world, it’s taught me time and time again, that home for me has nothing to with the physical place, the posh carpets or the number of rooms, but it’s got everything to do with the people you are with. That’s why it so easy to make a new home whilst travelling. The people you meet make you feel loved and safe. They help you belong. They become your home.
What Do You Love About Where You Live?
When we write about where we live and when we write about home, we start to learn more about what makes us, us. We learn how we feel safe and where we feel joy. We learn where we belong, by seeing it on the page. But more importantly, we start to feel even more gratitude to the home we’re in now. Whether it be permanent or temporary. It’s home and we can be thankful for so much.
Why not write some stories about the homes you’ve had? Or list the things you love about your home now.
The things I love about my home:
- The sound of the rain as it pelts the skylight in my office.
- The way the light falls in the morning as it splashes the living room with a golden glow.
- The way I can’t walk into town without seeing someone I know or used to work with.
- How the sky on a crisp, sunny December day is so blue, it looks like it’s been photoshopped.
- I love that I know things too, secrets and lessons you’ll only know once you’ve lived in a place for a while. Like how you can’t put your umbrella up on New Market Street, it’s a wind tunnel and the northern winds will whip it inside out. Every time.
- I know that if I leave my house and walk up towards the allotments before 7 am in the summer, the view will take my breath away. Every time. As I walk towards to boundaries of the Peak District National Park, dancing between the lambs and hopping over styles, I feel like it will be a good day.
- I love that I know which café serves the best coffee. And which has the best cake.
- I love that I know there are still roads and footpaths I haven’t explored.
- And I love that the people I surround myself with, make me feel like I’m home.
Writing About Your Home
What about you? What do you love about your home?
Stories from the places we’ve lived are etched into our hearts. They are muscle memories. Like how you always turn right at the end of your street, or why you only park on the left. When did you stop noticing the wonderful, unique things in your home? Spend a little time recalling the stories from past homes, plan for what you want your stories to say in the future and enjoy your home now. After all, there really is no place like home.
Stories From A Backpack is a place that celebrates the process of documenting our life through stories. You don’t have to see yourself as a writer to want to document your life. You can start to save your memories and share your story today.
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