Summer. Home.

What does home mean to you?

For most of us, the word itself is reminiscent and elegant. Home is where we bask in comfort and a greater sense of security and understanding. In our lowest moments, it is the thought of home that we turn to for solace.

Though for some of us, like myself, home is not just a single place. For whatever reason, to study, to work or whatever it may be, some of us leave home for a reason paradoxical in its nature: to find a new home somewhere else. Sometimes there is nothing or no-one out there for us, and yet we must step into the uncertainty to find emotional nourishment.

A year abroad has taught me much in terms of respecting my privileges. It is not to say that I was not grateful for my luxuries at home, but rather to say that I didn’t quite realise how much I would miss them once I was living on my own. Now, back home for the summer, the convenience of laying in bed and calling for my breakfast on the intercom is a luxury.

It’s notable how evocative certain images of traveller’s loneliness can feel: an isolated diner in a vast landscape, a forest in the gathering darkness, a motel room at the edge of town… 

Motels, or any lodging for that fact, aren’t conventional ideas of what we know to be and call home. Yet, all the same, momentarily these places serve as our homes in new and unsettling environments.

Being back home is a time that has allowed me to reconnect with a circle of people to which I am committed and where nominally I belong. The enjoyment of being home without other preoccupations is that we get to slip into a lazy mood. That’s what I love most about being home. I don’t have to clean the fridge or wander out at 12 A.M to see if any laundry machines are free.

It is only via a journey that we will be able to find a better home than the one we left behind, that it is only by moving away that we will be able properly to arrive.

Summer seems like the time that people yearn for all year round. I spent the first half of it in Boston, and for the first time in my life, it was a birthday that I didn’t celebrate in the company of my immediate family. Somehow, I didn’t feel quite as distant, as it was a time on campus bustling with activity, so I tried to mitigate the fact that I missed home by diving into what was going on around me. Without a doubt, this summer has been intense. When I thought about attending university around this time last year, summer classes were last on my list of expectations. Yes, even after 4 A.M fire alarms and stormy weather advisories.

The only good thing about my all-nighter this summer was this photo.

Like with most other things, the anticipation of summer is tied more to our imagination of how it should be, rather than most of how our summer breaks turn out. We look forward to that vacation we want to take, or perhaps that group of friends we’ve been waiting to see: and yet when the time comes around, those things seem more mundane in reality than when we played them over a hundred times in our imagination.

The lovely mental pictures that get us to travel are – in essence – hugely edited versions of what we actually encounter in any destination. We will, eventually, certainly see these pictures, but we will also see so much else, so much that is painful or boring, dispiriting or mundane: hours of footage of the stained airline seat ahead of us, the back of the taxi driver’s head, the wall of the cheap hotel, a framed photograph of Marilyn Monroe on the wall of a little local restaurant…

The Book Of Life

Perhaps there is something bittersweet about being home for the summer. It’s the time we have to dig below the surface of our minds, to assess the questions that we dodge in our normal routine.

“Who am I?”

“What am I trying to accomplish?”

“Where will I be in a couple years’ time given my current predicaments?”

We’re always ready to execute plans, but rarely are we ever to randomly think about the big questions.

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