I am reaching the age where the offspring are on the cusp of fleeing the nest. The Lawyer will shortly move into a new flat and the excitement is palpable – no more cupboard doors left open – the record is seven in the kitchen just to make porridge – towels that are self hanging… Yes he’s excited too.
Back in the 70s we tended to leave home earlier I think. We certainly did, never moving back permanently after we started at university. Flat shares, flats together, flats bought, house and garden acquired.
But were any of them ‘home’? If asked where do I come from, I now say ‘London’ having lived here for 36 years but back in the 90s I’d have said The New Forest where my parents lived and where I spent the last years before I left ‘home’. Because I didn’t leave home, I left the family house.
When did I first call any of my London houses and accommodations ‘home’? Apart from saying ‘I’m going home’ at the end of the day? When did I make that distinction in contrast to my parents’ house?
Probably when the children appeared with those butterfly beats of change that are parenthood.
That’s because ‘Home’ isn’t a place or a physical structure, it’s an emotional connection and sense of belonging, a place of heart not head. It takes a lot to disconnect that. And it’s only now both my parents are dead that I can say ‘home’ with confidence. Paul Young didn’t get this with his rather good hit.
Or maybe he did. Maybe he was making the very same point, that it’s about the connection not the geography. The stimulus for this piece was another post by Elissaveta over at A Writer’s Caravan – please visit, there’s a lot of excellent work there. Ellie discusses the Tuareg nomadic peoples who, of course would not have thought of one spot as home, not in the narrow geolocational way we do in the West. That said, I’d hazard a guess their caravans, wherever they pitched camp are ‘home’ as much as Paul Young’s hat.
Which is a long way to say we shouldn’t underestimate the turmoil and upheaval that the poor souls fleeing Syria are going through. To cut the ties to that familiar landscape and those ancestral connections is huge. They are leaving ‘home’ in whatever wide or narrow way they define it and we in the west should appreciate how massive that is for them. We should be thinking of offering a place to them with our hearts and not so much our heads.
This post is part of the ~1000 Voices Speak for Compassion.