Where is Home?

“They say home is where the heart is, but my heart is wild and free. So am I homeless or just heartless?” – beautifully written in the lyrics of the song Home by English singer, Passenger.

For months these words have baffled my mind every time I sing along to the beautiful song, or even when they just pop up in my mind in the form of a question, joining the rest of my other restless thoughts which I have no answers to.

And just now I stumble upon this written piece by Nelson Mandela, it’s probably one that many people miss or simply choose to ignore. In his UNPUBLISHED autobiographical manuscript written in prison, Mandela wrote, “I regarded the township (Alexandra) as a home in which I had no specific house, and Orlando, where my wife and children still live, as a place where I had a house but no home.” – I read this in the book, NELSON MANDELA: conversations with myself.

The question of home is one that is constantly being banged onto me. After meeting somebody for the first time, or when you finally begin to get acquainted with someone you’ve known from afar, the question is commonly asked as a form of ice-breaker, or even cheap talk, with the questioner expecting an easy answer that can be brushed quickly under the memory’s carpet.

But I find the answer quite difficult. I am writing this from the home that is provided for me by my parents, together with them I share it with my little brother, our friendly helper, and occasionally my older sister who returns home in two year intervals from Cuba where she studies.

I myself also spend limited time in this home. I study in a province on the other side of the country and only return for a combined three months of vacation time throughout the year. The tricky part is that when we moved to this home, I was in my final year of high school in the South of Johannesburg… We now live in the East. I completed that school year living with my aunt and uncle who’s home was closer to my school.

All my childhood friends remained that side and between us lies an hour of multiple public transport rides and all the costs that come along with it. I never got the opportunity to roam these streets as a youngster, so I have no friends nearby to help me settle in.

And what about my school? I’m a full-time student in a province 6 hours away from home. My daily doings, my trusted bed, hobbies and habits… I have stapled them all over there. I know I was only meant to Learn and move on, but I’ve adjusted. That life that side is much slower and I prefer that pace. I arrived there as teen, and started maturing into this.

Some personal evaluation has revealed a restless heart. Quickly caught in illusion, and in a snap I’m disillusioned. Everything that I do always feels like a “phase”. I’m wondering if it’s a sign of a shallow foundation – I never dig deep enough or order too many bricks. Never learnt to put all my eggs in one basket, so I always run short even though I have enough. The Jack of all trades but master of none.

Where is Home? Is it where I sleep or where I dream? Is it the place I pay for or where mama keeps it free? Is it where I came from, where I am or where I’m going? I need answers for home because I need a place to store my hope, I need the grace that comes with being firmly rooted, where my pathway is always routed, a place where my family tree can be rooted.

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8 comments

  1. Marvin Gaye: “Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home.”
    Sting: “I’ll invite you back to my place
    It’s only mine because it holds my suitcase
    It looks like home to me all right
    But it’s a hundred miles from yesterday night…”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Your writing is home. Your curiosity and observations are home. Your family is home. My own circumstances have not led to being rooted in a place; more, like a state of mind, never quite settled, but never quite lost either. That little bit of wind that carries your hope and your heart about, that will serve you as a writer. The theme of where we belong is universal to the human condition. You’re a good writer — you are already capturing that theme. I look forward to following your story. . .

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  3. I, too, have a restless heart, even at 64, I also have a foot out the door. I call them “Sharp Turns To The Left”. Home can kick you in the face if you’re not careful. I’ve lived in many places, but “home”, where much of my family still reside near turned out to be an unfriendly place. I always went “home” throughout the years for various reasons, but 8 years ago I became extremely ill and my mother begged me to move home so my family could support me. I did. Turned out they didn’t much care for me to be around and not only did I get no support during a 3 year illness they never called to see if I lived through surgery. I was told, by my mother, that is was my own fault because I was the one who moved away 40 years earlier. Really, she told me that more than once. I’m in the process of leaving again and won’t even tell them I’m gone. I lived my entire growing up years in the same house with these people. Home in my memories is just that, a memory. Home is where you live, wherever that is. When it stops be home is time to leave.

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  4. Worth considering. People construct lives around any number of concepts of “home,” from the born vagabond whose home is in her head (although it’s easy to slip up and think that VW van or the motorcycle itself is “home”), someone whose office becomes home, or others who find that home is wherever some partner is. Says a lot about a person’s view of the world and themselves. In all likelihood, home is some combination of places, things, ideas and activities, overlain with emotion and connection.
    Well worth examining by all of us.
    Thanks for the thought, and thanks for visiting Under Western Skies.

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  5. I think home is wherever you say it is. Sounds trite but if your stuff is there, for no matter how long, and you sleep there, have a key and it’s decorated in your style, even if it’s a poster, then it’s home, for that moment. The thing to having a home is to always put your imprint on wherever you are. That’s what makes a home…whatever you love, no matter how small, if it’s there with you…it’s your home.

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