Redefining the Idea of Home
When I packed my bags to move across the world, the second journey in two years, I knew that things this time around would be different. I was no longer tied down by the responsibility of a typical job — instead setting my sights on working for myself as an artist, creative entrepreneur — what some would call a modern day renaissance woman.
I made the decision to move back to Europe purely out of want. There was nothing calling me back to France — no set client base, no relationship, no existing French family — I came back just for me.
I have begun to realize that many of us are pulled toward varying parts of the world for a specific reason. Whether that be for a job, a romantic partner, to be closer to your family or to seek a better form of life — rarely do we just go because of instinctual wants.
And why is it that we wait for a sign or promise of change to alter our current situation? Maybe, because it’s easier — it feels more natural and we can put purpose behind it. Maybe, because the alternative — creating a new life from thin air is scary as hell. Yeah.. that’s definitely it.
Even though it’s daunting, scary and sometimes seems like the most haphazard decision I could have made — we sometimes don’t have a choice. Because life doesn’t always align what you need or set situations up for you to follow in a perfect manner. For some of us, we feel no universal guidance toward one singular place — we have to instead seek out where we feel our best selves, where we may be ready to build our life.
My Home is Not a Place
For my entire life, I have never felt as if I fit into where I lived. I grew up in a beautiful beach town in Florida, with a wonderful, supportive family unit and a childhood home that always smells like fresh coffee and scented candles.
Yet, even with this blissful upbringing I never felt connected to my hometown in a way that others did. I never found myself talking about going back to live one day or keeping ties with friends who remained even when I moved away. To me, it was a place where I was raised, but not necessarily a place where I would grow.
It wasn’t until I moved abroad that I found a place that resembled the feeling of home. A city that sat on the other side of the world, filled with a culture that is not my own, full of people who I could hardly communicate with. Even though nothing felt smooth or easy, most days being there just felt right. I had a perspective that altered the way I perceived the world. I was challenged daily to find a way to assimilate. I was pushed and shoved through the harsh realties of what it means to be a foreigner, an immigrant, an Expat.
I found myself digging into this city, wanting ever so desperately to cement my life here.
My Home is a Feeling
Even when I knew I wanted to make France the place where I would live, I knew it wasn’t because it was necessarily “my home.” In truth, it will never be mine. I will always be an outsider, the American living abroad, the girl whose French accent still hints of English mother tongue. This place will never belong to me.
Paris isn’t about finding the ideal apartment, decorating it to the nines and looking out over my gorgeous balcony at the city to think “It feels good to be home.” It’s not about the planting of myself physically in this place in order to give it some semblance of security. My home is a feeling.
It’s the feeling of family, no matter where in the world I may be:
It’s the days when my mom calls from Florida to check in, when my dad reminds me to watch his latest Youtube video, or when my siblings text me for advice or to send me a picture of our dogs.
It’s the feeling of building my life all over again:
Walking through new neighborhoods, sitting for a coffee on an open terrace, reading a book by the river or meeting new friends for a picnic.
It’s moving somewhere to start again because you want it. This new year in a familiar place is Chapter 2, page 1. I like the idea that no matter what has happened in your life, there is always the possibility of starting again to build something new. That no matter where you come from, you will find your spot in the world — redefining what it means to be coming home.