"Home" even as Webster defines it could be one of many things:
In the most basic sense of the word I'd gravitate towards option number four, my home being Wisconsin, the place I came from and will always have a desire or obligation to return to. Since leaving that home though, I've discovered that this simple four letter word can symbolize such vast different worlds for each person who utters it.
Home, we know, is not just the place where you happen to be born. It's the place where you become yourself. ~ Pico Iyer
My first alteration of this word came when I packed up my life and moved it abroad, three suitcases and me bound for the other side of the world, settling in South Korea. I believe every expat has one of those "ah ha" moments when they refer to their new residence as home, feeling comfortable enough in their new surroundings; somehow this new, strange place has become the familiar.
My move to South Korea happened when I was only 23 years old, not only was I moving halfway around the world, but this was the first time I'd be living on my own. Thankfully my experience was a positive one, so positive in fact that I now feel strong home ties to my small town of Buksam, a place many Korean's don't even know exist.
While living abroad I met numerous other expats from around the world, some who thought like I did, building a life for themselves in Korea, while others considered it only a one year vacation from life. This may have been good for them, simply floating through life in Korea, knowing they'd soon return home, but I'm glad I fell into the former camp. Being able to call Korea home is something I never fathomed would happen, but I am so grateful it did.
Where thou art – that – is home. – Emily Dickinson
Despite building myself a second home there was still part of me that wanted to explore, and that's how I found yet another definition for this versatile word. I packed my bags, stashed two and took one with me, this time bound for adventures in South East Asia. My previous travels around Asia were all capped at a few weeks time. This was my first long term travel, living out of my backpack and relying on couchsurfing, guesthouses, buses and trains for places to call home for a night or two. I believe that no expectations is the best way to approach any situation, leaving less room for disappointment, so that's how I embarked on this adventure, unknowing yet eager.
Had I held high expectations for my travels, they too would have been exceeded. I was continually met by friendly and curious individuals; whether it be locals that wanted to share their culture and city with me, or fellow travelers wanting to share a meal, story or beer, I was not disappointed. I met people who had been calling the road home for months, some even years, comfortable living with only what they could carry on their back. I was also invited into the homes of many, sometimes through couchsurfing, but other times through chance interaction. I admit I'm a little nosey, or maybe curious is a better word for it, but I love exploring and learning about how others live. What's the inside of their house like, how do they go about their daily routine, what is home to them?
This is how over the course of the past four years Iv'e discovered that home could mean any of hundreds of things, different for each and every individual. I still believe in home as the place we're from, the familiar from years long ago, a place we developed and grew, but it's also so much more. Which begs me to ask another question, what does it mean to be homesick?
You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.
Emptying my Head
I'm an overthinker, my brain is always on overdrive. Sometimes the thoughts are pertinant to life, and other times they're just a trove of wonder. They're usually about, related to or in memory of travel. When they're good I like to share.