Where is home
when you live on the road?
As the springtime storm rages outside our windows thrown open to the humid evening, I sit across the dining room table constructed out of half painted pallets from my roommate, warm tea cups nestled in our hands and a smoldering cigarette in the ash tray. We are neck deep in yet another conversation about our plans for the future, one of our favorite past times we have developed over the months of living together.
At first glance, Maggie and I are very different people. She’s French from Normandy, speaks English with a heavy accent, and wonders how I can eat pasta more than twice a week. I’m Italian American from the Silicon Valley, accidentally invent new words every time I try to speak French, and wonder how in the world someone so skinny can drink so many negroni.
Our backgrounds and paths in life are so vastly different, and yet by some crazy twist in fate, here we are living together in Uccle, a cozy neighborhood tucked into the southern region on the map of Brussels, Belgium. But it’s not just the common address or love of eccentric decorating that we share, bringing us together to form a friendship manifested in many a late night conversation.
Maggie and I are travelers, two fellow souls condemned to wandering in search of the next adrenaline rush of the latest purchased plane ticket.
Which explains our habit of discussing future plans together after our work days come to an end, as we feed off the idea of the infinite amount of possibilities the future may hold for us. But tonight, as the storm holds us inside and my departure date from Brussels ticks closer, our conversation takes a new turn, leading us instead down a path of reflection on the various places we have come to call home.
Seems almost ironic, right?
Two people with the tendency to call the volatile open road home discussing which, if any, one location we could possibly term as a permanent home.
You see, we travelers have the uncanny ability to turn a haphazard pinpoint on a map into a place for us to thrive, but it is this capacity to adapt to any location that creates a bit of an obstacle for us when it comes to defining home. By definition, a traveler is someone who ventures from home in the search of discovery. But as travelers, how do we define the home from which we venture?
We could define home as wherever our literal ‘home’ address is. Even us nomads have a place to list, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we can call that place our home. For the fortunate few it is their true home, but for the majority of us it is only the listing of our current traveling conquest.
Then there is the possibility of defining our favorite city as home. Ask any one of us travelers, we all have that one city we cannot resist, the pulse of its streets calling to us no matter the distance we put between us. It’s an innate desire we are unable to avoid, an inexplicable pull that connects us to our city. But if this is home, why do we keep leaving it?
Because truthfully, home for a traveler is not a geographical point on the map.
Home for a traveler is the person (or people) we choose to return to time and time again.
When we say that we are going home, what we really mean is that
we are returning to the place that we feel loved.
The open road will always be our temptress, this is something we will never be able to change. But the longer we spend on the road, the more we find ourselves searching for something else, something our temptress will never be able to give us.
We find ourselves in search of the place that we will be missed when we go and will be rejoiced when we return.
We find ourselves in search of the place that we are loved.
And home will always be where we find this love.
So we take to the open road not to discover foreign lands, but to return to the different faces our home has manifested in.