Wednesday, 7 October 2009

A place called home

I recently returned home to Tromsø after 7 months in Joburg. Just landing in Oslo, I "knew" that this isn't home anymore. There was something about the way people don't look into each others eyes. About the way it's cold. About the irritation I felt at hearing Norwegian spoken all around me. And when I finally placed my feet inside my childhood home again, there was no doubt in my mind that I don't belong here.

Shortly after my return, I spoke to a friend of mine. After hearing how I was dealing (or not) with the return, he said "there's no coming home". There's never any coming back. And what he continued to say was, "and if you go back to SA, it won't be the same either".

Well, I did go back. Just for a week, 6 weeks after coming home to Tromsø again. And in part, he was right. In part he was wrong.

It feels like I've had two homes in Joburg. At the end of my longer stay, one of them became more distant to me, for different reasons, yet I still felt at home there. Now when I revisited this home again, my feelings are more uncertain. So many things had changed. I was happy to be back, yet I felt estranged. This is a place of constant change. It does not accomodate constancy. Everyone are guests here, and my place there can never again be what it was. I no longer had my place there, I was just saying hi.

My second Joburg home was different. Upon arrival, I still felt completely at home there. But also here, some things were changed. Some members were absent for the duration of my stay, changing the dynamics and the experience altogether. Yet it did not change the feeling of peace and contentment. The "home" might be slightly altered, yet it was still home.

Being back in Tromsø for the 2nd time, I can only note the contrast between where I want to be, and where I am. I'm at home, but I'm not at home. The dream now is to go and stay in Joburg again next year. If I do, tho, I'll go there in a completely different capacity than before. Will that change the experience of "home"?

If there's no returning, if there's never any "coming home", then where are we all going? Are we all homeless, orphans, have we all cut the umbilical cord? Are we all longing back to a fictional past or imagined future?

They say that the human condition is strongly infuenced by a feeling of loss. The loss of the vomb, the loss of innocence, etc etc. A longing back, nostalgia, and for some, an insatiable hunger to get away, away, away. Are we running away from something, or to something?

Or are we doomed to create new homes at every turn? To adapt to change, to start nesting all over again, to create a place we can call home?

I've had a few homes in my life. But to recreate them seems impossible. There is no returning. Those homes had their time and space. I am beyond both these times and spaces.

"A Place Called Home" by P J Harvey

One day
I know
We'll find
A place of hope
Just hold on to me
Just hold on to me
Walk tight
One line
You're wanted
This time
There's no-one to blame
Just hold on to me

And I'm right on time
And the birds keep singing
And you're right on line
And the bells keep ringing } come on my love
And the battle is won
And the planes keep winging
And I'm right on time
And the girl keeps singing

I walk
I wade
Through full lands
And lonely
I stumble
I stumble
With you
I wait
To be born
Again
With love comes the day
Just hold on to me

Now is the time to follow through, to read the signs
Now the message is sent, let's bring it to its final end

One-day-I-know-there'll-be-a-place-called-home.

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