What constitutes as living in a place?
Is it a time frame, is it the type of accommodation you have? Does it start counting once I've got a place to hang my clothes up or have started laying down roots, making friends, committing to things?
As of today, I've been on this European leg of my journey for three months. And while I've been lucky to take it slow, to have friends to stay with and the occasional private room, I've been feeling unsettled and maybe even a little bit lost.
I've started craving a space where I could call my own. I went on this trip to take ownership of my life but felt like I owned nothing. I wanted to get a plant, so I could take care of something that couldn't really be packed into a backpack and blossom. It wasn't even that i was missing home. Being back in Sydney earlier this year had this unfamiliar sensation as feeling like just another stop on the trip; a paradox of both the familiar but unfamiliar.
Having chosen a nomad life, it's surprised me that the idea of a home has become so blurred yet, at the same time, so important to understand.
Home has always been a fluid concept.
The distinction between a house and a home has always added a level of personality and emotional weight to the latter. You can feel at home because it's where the wifi connects, or because it's filled with your stuff and you spend the most time there, feeling relaxed, comfortable. But you can feel at home in many different ways: your friend's house, your dorm room, maybe even in a city that just connects with your vibe perfectly.
A home isn't confined to four walls and a roof. To hang our understanding on the fantasy of the picket white fence too simplistic, too consumerist and, in the current climate of home ownership - increasingly unrealistic.
As a traveller I’d always connected with a more conceptual approach.
To me, home was never a place; it was the feeling. It was the way the people I loved said my name.
I wish I knew who to credit for a quote that encapsulates how I saw home so perfectly. This quote helped to legitimise so many moments in my life where I've found myself at home. Whether it's when you realise you're starting to find your way around once-unfamiliar streets; or lounging on my small cushion with the word "amour" embroidered on it that I had bought to brighten up your room; or a random moment where I was caught laughing at a dumb joke but surrounded by friends; somehow all these moments held that warmth and happiness we want to associate with the idea of home.
Read more about why travel friendships are the best kind.
It's fun and fleeting and exhilarating all in one. Home doesn't have to be bound to a physical place but can be found in each new city, each new adventure.
So why have these ideas felt a little insufficient now that i have no physical home?
Well, I think it comes down to the fact that we can't just completely change our mindsets overnight. As with my ideas of work or travelling, I am still a product of a the conventional route. As much as home is an intangible and fluid thing that can be found all around the world, it too is a place that we create.
Being in a foreign place and playing tourist, we are bombarded by all the external factors. We are taking in all the culture, the architecture, the smells. We become constant receivers of all the outside influences and spend our times trying to compare it to something familiar.
We have that brand in Australia too.
You put your cheese in that aisle in the supermarket? We put it over there.
We learn to adapt and change with our surroundings. But where's our chance to put our mark on a place?
And that's how i've landed in barcelona.
Joining up with Behere, I've now got my own apartment, access to a co-working space, a gym membership and a community of other remote workers already here. I was able to buy groceries and cook myself dinner. I got to hang up my clothes and put my backpack away for a little bit. I have fewer and fewer choices to make and I can concentrate on embracing this lifestyle and actually enjoying it.
It might feel inconsequential, maybe even frivolous. Can it really make a difference that I'm not sharing a room with seven other, occasionally snoring, fellow travellers in bunk beds? Well, yes but it's also more than just this space. I want to start affecting my environment as much as it affects me. If it starts with just this space, it's still an important start. From there, I can grow as much as my soon-to-be-purchased succulent. I can make an impact on the people I meet. I can create something that means something. I can leave the world a little bit better than it was when I arrived.