Sunday, April 03, 2016

Identity and home

I maintained a daily writing habit, for the most part,
throughout my 7 months in Europe
I am surprised to find so much of my identity wrapped up in my home, where I live, but maybe I shouldn't be.

One of my big learnings while I was away for an extended period in Europe, and had no "home" to go back to (I had given up my apartment and given away almost everything in it, aside from a dozen or so boxes), was that I am my home. Wherever I am, that is my home.

I did have a certain discomfort from realizing I was "home-less" - I remember being teary when I shared my revelation with my host Mabel, who I stayed with in Barcelona - and being a bit shocked. After all, I had planned this, and it had been very intentional.

There was some value in my discomfort, as it helped me look within, and explore all the aspects of home in order to reach the place of "I am my home, wherever I am is home".

It actually didn't take me all that long to figure that one out, and the feeling stayed with me, without swaying, through the rest of my travels. I remember meeting a few other long term travellers and recognizing the stillness and sense of self in those who were clearly grounded, no matter where they were.

It also stayed with me during my first few months back in Vancouver, staying in sublet apartments. I think, in part, it came from living small, mostly with just my bag on wheels from my trip, just a few things, everything of which could be gathered up in an hour, all which would fit back into place in my bag. The way I moved ~ meaning they way I felt when I was walking out in the world, but I suppose I also mean how I relocated from one spot to another. I was a self-contained unit.

It's not something I'd thought that much about since, and I did carry that feeling with me, at least for awhile, when I first move do the island to live with mom.

Now, here I am, 6 years later, placing an object here or there in my new apartment, and feeling a sense of self returning to me that I hadn't felt for a very long time. A sense of identity. I can look at my space, and know it is mine. It is my home. It has my mark on it. It's also time alone, and my own space. Actually, it's largely that, I think, but the signs of this new life taking shape around me give me comfort, give me ease.

I was very comfortable at my mom's house, and certainly appreciated all her home gave to me, both with her, and since. I remembering her saying to me, not long after I helped her move into residential care, "Would you like to live in my little house?" she offered. "Yes, mom, I'd love to, thank you," I said, weeping inside, torn apart by the whole situation, but touched and grateful.

But I also got a little lost there [understatement alert]. It was her space, it was my sister's space, it was family space, and I was staying there. Gratefully staying there. But I was always a little out of place. I had spent 30+ years living alone, in a space that I created myself. I knew who I was in my own space. I was disoriented living elsewhere.

I have also come to realize that living with others is so foreign to me, that I need/crave/want to live alone, to have my own place. It helps me be me. A lifetime of living alone gives me this knowledge, and when I was crumbling, it was holding out for this that gave me hope for getting myself back on track, getting grounded again.

The incredible view I had when writing during my month in Athens

And here I find myself, full circle, back to reflecting on home, and where did that feeling go, that feeling of "I am my home, wherever I am". How did I lose that? Was it that fragile? Wasn't that true? What happened to me? How did I become so lost?

I know much of the answer, of course, having reached a breaking point, having become totally overwhelmed without relief, going through the motions (or not), then grief, and pain, and feeling stuck, not recognizing myself, never feeling myself, never feeling relaxed, never feeling quite right again. I'm not complaining or regretting anything, just trying to understand.

Trying to understand why being able to hang a little orange string of mirrors on my living room curtain rod gives me such satisfaction.

It's funny, I thought I was just as likely to take off and travel for another extended period when mom's house sold, so that's a bit of why I'm surprised to find myself nesting. I have almost felt inclined to resist it ~ because I don't want to become so tied down that I can't/won't travel ~ but that's silly. I can always pack up and go, or make a change.

Maybe I am discovering that I am right where I need to be (surprise, surprise), and that my home is going to be part of finding my sense of self again. This new sense of self, as 7 years have passed, and I need to pause.

In terms of writing, and this day 3 post of my 30 day challenge, I am over the moon with delight that I found a way back to writing. Already I am more whole. I stopped writing sometime into my first year at mom's I think. I am home, I am home, I am home...

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