I have been pondering the concept of home a lot lately. Ana and I have talked a lot about it as we return to Berlin for a few weeks especially.
As we spent our month in Spain, we nestled into our flat for the month and tried to put a few touches here and there to make it feel like this was our place for the month but also knew that we had home elsewhere. As we were coming back to Berlin, it hit me that my idea of home shifts and at the same time doesn’t.
I am addicted to this app on my phone called Marco Polo. It is an app where you can leave video messages for your friends. This may seem simple and at first I was skeptical that I would like it. Couldn’t we just facetime or leave messages for one another? But this app has become crucial to me because you don’t have to worry about timezones or scheduling but you can still see your people and feel like you are in conversation with them. It has been essential in cutting down homesickness for me. Over and over my friends on Marco Polo from the United States leave these messages of saying they can’t wait to see me when I come home. They say and I say it back, “we can’t wait until you are home for a little while.”
But this amazing thing happened where I got a Marco message from a friend in Berlin and the day before we left Spain her message was, “Yay you are coming hooooommmmee!” Meaning Berlin. I had never heard someone say to me yet that I was coming home and they meant Berlin. And she was excited for me to “come home.” Ana and I went to a dinner party of new friends on the second day back and so many of our new friends exclaimed, “We are so glad you are home!” Meaning Berlin.
I went to church on Sunday, a place where there are people who now know me are, and I approached some friends who have a four year old and she exclaimed, “Oh Courtney! You came back!” She exclaimed it with pure joy and it made going to church totally worth it.
And I am headed into volunteer at a place where I barista as a volunteer to help raise money for refugee services and I know that people will welcome me back in and welcome me home in this place. Meaning Berlin.
Berlin doesn’t fit my concept of my home yet and yet there are now people in the world that count it as my home. I reside here for sure, I have a visa and a residence paper that says that I do. Is this what makes home home?
In my mind when I say I am going home, I mean Portland. And that’s not even the place I grew up and raised me. When my parents say I can always come home, they mean that place, they place where they are. In some ways that is still true for me, that will always be my home on some level.
Ana and I have talked about this a lot, this concept of home. As someone who has moved to a few countries in her life, she totally understands this in between time of what is home and where is home and what does home feel like.
What makes home home? Lately, I have been trying to add touches to our flat to make it more of what I consider home. It seems that every time I am out, I pick up another little plant to make it more home. To me, home includes more color and warmth. It includes my books and my clothes but it is not dependent on stuff. When we came back to Berlin, I was welcomed back by people and that made it feel more like I belonged. I knew more of the language here and how to get around….that feels more like a space I inhibit. And while, it still isn’t what I see when I say home, it does feel more homey.
Those of us in the in between I think constantly struggle with the concept of home. Where do we belong? What makes home home?