Home. This seems to have been the theme all weekend. And so, I am faced with the necessary questions: how does one define the word “home”? What does it mean to me versus other people? Does the definition remain constant with time, or does it mold to allow new circumstances?
Let me only speak for myself, as I have thought long and hard about this for many years (being a nomad will do that to you).
For me, home is where the heart is. No, really. Whenever I walk into my parent’s house, no matter where in the world they are, I feel at home. The warmth of their love, knowing that I am always welcome, that they will always care for me and receive me with open arms, this is where I find peace and where I can rest. I love going back there, even if just for a day or two. I can be a child again, no “real world” nonsense to deal with.
Yet, I don’t live there permanently. I choose to leave every time, because although my family is home to me, there are other places I want to discover. And so, I also define “home” as a place where I belong, and that place is Buenos Aires. I don’t know what it is about that city. I just feel like that is the place where all the pieces of the puzzle fit in neatly.
However, something happened to me this weekend that I was not expecting: I returned to Boston for a visit and, guess what? I felt at home. It is a familiar place, one which I left only a few weeks ago, and where I spent a year and a half of my life…a relatively short period of time. But this feeling was pleasant; I fell back into my routine and felt completely at ease, like I had never left.
Although, I am glad I did. I have been craving adventure for some time now, a new place where I can be active and make an impact. Boston was a great resting ground. New York City promises to be something else, to say the least.
As I continue exploring this new city, carving it out to make it my own, I strive to conquer a piece of it that one day I can also call “home”, no matter how long I live here. For someone like me, who has a lot of faith, Earth will not be my final destination, and that is why I consider it my playground. I want to move about it freely, travel all around, immerse myself in its wonders, so that slowly, but surely, little pieces of this beautiful and wonderful planet will make themselves mine. Or, maybe, I will make them more like me… Who knows.
In the meantime, I would like to share an excellent poem by Mario Benedetti, which was given to me as a present by a dear friend (original Spanish here; brief explanation at the bottom, as the true meaning may not translate perfectly):
Don’t save yourself
Don’t remain immobile
At the side of the road
Don’t freeze joy
Don’t love half-heartedly
Don’t save yourself now
Don’t save yourself
Don’t fill yourself with calm
Don’t reserve in the world
Only a secure place
Don’t let your eyelids fall
Heavy as judgments
Don’t speak without lips
Don’t sleep without sleepiness
Don’t imagine yourself without blood
Don’t judge yourself without time.
in spite of everything
You can’t help it
And you freeze joy,
And you love half-heartedly,
And you save yourself now,
And you fill yourself with calm,
And you reserve in the world
Only a secure place,
And you let your eyelids fall
Heavy as judgments,
And you speak without lips,
And you sleep without sleepiness,
And you imagine yourself without blood,
And you judge yourself without time,
And you remain immobile
At the side of the road,
And you save yourself,
Don’t stay with me.
Explanation (borrowed from here): “The poem is basically saying do not live half-heartedly, and coldly, to try to save yourself from pain. The poet says, if you must ‘save yourself’ in this way, then ‘don’t stay with me’. It seems to me that he is asking someone to live and love with abandon, without self-censorship or self-protection, otherwise, that life and love are not worth having.”
And, what connection does this have to my definition of “home”? That I do not wish, ever, to “reserve in the world, only a secure place” for myself. I must continue on, adventure to adventure, until I arrive at my one, true home.
Photo: Belén Alemán / Boston, Massachusetts, USA