Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Home comforts

Where is home? Is it a place on a map, or is it found in the treasures we've salvaged from our past?

For me, the answer to the bland question "Where's home?" has a confusing answer. My father lives in Melbourne and my mother lives in Auckland, but I didn't grow up in either of those houses so I wouldn't call them home. My childhood home was sold when my parents divorced, as was my grandparents home when they also split. Now I rent a flat in Sydney, but I have lived in New York, Auckland, Wellington and also Melbourne where I lived during my first few years of high school.

It's a modern problem, one unique to our generation where a person can have satellite homes, where families and houses continue their continental drift across countries and continents. So why can't we just pick a home and stick to it?

For some, even if they have bought a home in a big and lovely city; with deep roots firmly ground in friends, mortgages and careers, they still can't shake the feeling that elsewhere is home. "I'm going home for the weekend," they might say. Home home. Real home. Where parents or family live, the house where they grew up. Home is clearly more than geography but even if we return to our former home as an adult, its meaning remains mainly in memories rather than the physical foundation, the word "home" bearing a heavy weight of association.

For me, it means playing in a paddling pool on the driveway, getting stuck in newly laid cement in my gumboots while said house was being built, bunk-beds, silver beat, egg-cups, a sharp-edged glass table to circum-navigate when my head was the perfect height to bash right into it, a steep staircase great for slinkys to slink down and a magical rose garden that I was sure housed a family of royal fairies. But even those memories don't quite sum up the signifacnce of home home.

In it's place, things have become more important. It's what we choose to popuate our houses with that make them more comfortable, warm and perculiar to ourselves - a home.

With a new apartment in a new city, I'm about to embark on a home-ness makeover on our new Surry Hills flat. Though it's hard to travel with relics from one's childhood home, my boyfriend and I are hard at work scouring Sydney's vintage stores and tearing out magazine pictures for inspiration on filling our flat with what will become memento's from a new home, but a home nonetheless. Besides, multiplicity is rather modern, don't you think?

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