Friday, April 07, 2006

Another Idea of Home

Nostalgia ... according to the dictionary, is "a bittersweet longing for things, people, or situations of the past. The condition of being homesick."
Isabel Allende, My Invented Country.

A quote that intrigued me because it implies that home can be a person, a time or a thing, as I'd suspected when I had tried to define what home meant to me.

So many writers have written of nostalgia, memory and yearning and occasionally, reading many books, I find something like an answer to a subject I am curious about ... if I'm lucky.

Mourid Barghouti wrote,
Ein al-Deir is not a place, it is a time.
The thorns of the brambles trained our hands and sides to bleed early when we were children returning home at sunset to our mothers. Do I want to scramble through brambles now? No, what I want is the time of scrambling. 'Ein al-Deir is specifically the time of Mourid as a child ...

Later he writes, Dar Ra'd is not a place, it too is a time. A time of waking up with early prayers to taste the figs picked by the light of dawn.'

Intriguingly, or perhaps not when you realise his birthplace was Ramallah, he continues with, 'The places we desire are only times but conflict is over place'.
Mourid Barghouti, I Saw Ramallah.

Erica Jong appears in an old journal of mine, dated October 2000. She writes, The more I yearned, the more I wrote. Yearning is an essential emotion for a poet.
Erica Jong, Fear of Fifty.

So perhaps that is it ... writers consider these things and are driven to write of them, constantly searching for a way to define something that is almost undefinable, or at least highly subjective.

Many things have become 'home' for me. My childhood home is gone but the time and the people I grew with are still there, in reality and in memory. There are new friends who have quickly grown into familar old friends who become another home to me; there are the places I have loved and still love, and oddly enough, the taste of a nice red wine can also inspire something akin to a sensation of homecoming. Airport departure lounges, Singapore on a break between flights, the cabin of the big jet taking me home, taking me someplace new; the journey ... all are familiar.

Home: a smell, a taste, a sound, a person, a place, a time ... different things for different people I think.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this. I've lived in a number of places, but I know what "home" feels like. As the Melissa Etheridge song goes, "Home is a feeling I've buried in you", any place you are feels a bit more familiar when you're with the one you love.

I wanted to ask you if you had a good reading (fiction) suggestion. I love your writing style, and I thought you'd be a good person to ask...

Thanks. And thanks for your blog, too.

Mark J said...

Perhaps a place is just like any other. Maybe what makes it a home is a sense of belonging that comes embroiled in a receipe that includes warm memories, good friends, and a feeling of belonging without trying. Perhaps, given time, more than one place can become a home?

woman wandering said...

Hey thanks anonymous. I'm glad it struck a chord with you.

Favourite books ... well, I've read everything in the 'My library' list to the left at the top of the blog. If you click on that it should take you into my collection.

Favourite fiction ...
'Under the Tuscan Sun' Frances Mayes,
'Fugitive Pieces' by Anne Michaels
'The Eight' by Katherine Neville
'Foucoult's Pendulum' by Umberto Eco

I read a lot of travel, biography and climbing books though. I just realised when I was trying to name the fiction ... so many of my favourites are non-fiction.

Anyway, I hope that's a little helpful. :)

ML said...

That was just beautiful.. one of your best pieces. And it describes my feeling ..that of being homesick for a place that is NOT my home but came to feel Home in some mysterious way. YOur writing helps me to understand that feeling. ML

woman wandering said...

I think so Mark ... I miss more than one place, and feel at home with than one person ... it's so many things, in a way.

Thanks ML but then we're 'family' :)

RD said...

This is lovely. I've just come across your blog and have enjoyed reading it this afternoon. This post was especially meaningful as I prepare to move my family from a place that's been "home" for 13 years. I'm already feeling the nostalgia and sensing the loss of home, even as we look for the next place that will be home. I think we all carry Home in our hearts and in our senses.