January 6, 2017 at 3:43 pm #124723
What is “Home”? Is it a place, a person, a feeling? Will I ever find it?
All my life, I’ve felt rootless. I was born in Stockholm, Sweden and grew up on a small island in Thailand. My parents moved to Thailand when I was 6 and started a Swedish school there, which I went to until I was 16. Many people find this interesting and think only of the added impact to my life, the things I’ve learned and the things I’ve seen. But few people realize that there are some fundamental things that I’m missing, things I didn’t have when I grew up which they take for granted.
Now I’m in my twenties, I now live in Stockholm, Sweden and have done so since I was 16 years old. My parents still live in Thailand. I’m alone here, yet I’ve built myself a life.
But I never felt home in Sweden, it was always too cold for me, weather wise and culturally. And after ten years in Thailand, I was too different from other Swedish people, thinking differently although I look the same and speak Swedish fluently. So I longed for another place, somewhere I didn’t have to be a “stranger with a familiar face”, which is what I am here. Somewhere I could feel “home”.
So I went to Los Angeles for three months, in my continued quest. Someone once told me “Nothing is native in LA, not even the palm trees”. That the thing people ask there is not “Where are you from?” but “How many years have you lived in LA?”. I longed for the feeling of BELONGING somewhere, of being in a place where the culture and climate was warm yet which is not like Thailand, where only Thai people can truly belong. There, I was always an outsider.
I came back from LA a few weeks ago. It was a life-changing experience for me and made me change fundamentally as a human being, but it didn’t bring me any closer to finding “Home”. The people I met there were mostly just as lost as I was, or more. I met bitter people who had lived there for ten years and still didn’t feel “Home”. I saw a darkness there that scared me and which I’d never seen in Thailand or Sweden, it made me realize that maybe I’m just not built for living in a large city. I want a quiet life near the ocean, not a stressful life full of cars and noise.
What is your experience? What is “Home” for you, is it something you’ve known your whole life or something you found along the way?January 7, 2017 at 6:35 am #124751
Home for me is a feeling, most definitely. It is always the case, that we experience life through a feeling. If we feel depressed, we are not home be it in any location in the world and any circumstance. A Home-feeling is a feeling of safety- basic necessities kind of safety (needed food, shelter from the cold) and safety from abuse. When you are free from abuse, and instead, treated with empathy and respect- you are also free to BE, to just be you. And this is… home.
As far as the locations you mentioned: I lived in Lost Angeles for 24 years, Southern California- 27 years. Visited Norway (closest I’ve been to Sweden), during winter! and never been in Thailand or that part of Asia. I used to live in a hot and humid country until I was 25. I currently live in a country setting outside the city limit, in a colder than LA climate (closer to the Canadian border). Snow has been on the ground over a week now, but is not common. Personally I will do anything to avoid living in heat+ humidity again- that combination is insufferable for me. I will do anything to avoid living in a noisy setting- noisy neighbors, noisy traffic- living in crowded apartment buildings has been difficult (noise from above, below and sides). The weather in parts of LA county/ Southern California is great- but everyone knows it and “everyone” means a lot of traffic and a lot of noise.
anitaJanuary 7, 2017 at 6:52 am #124753
“Wherever you go, there you are” -Jon Kabat-Zinn
To answer your question-Home can be anywhere for me as long as I focus on making that place my home
Like you, I had never really felt at home anywhere. I’d always been the type to move, move, move-constantly wishing I was somewhere else (read: somewhere better, someplace with some people that make me happy). I also wished that every new place would make me someone else, someone more likable, cooler, stronger, better.
But what I’m realizing now is that I need to stay awhile and live with that discomfort. If I’m always wishing to be somewhere else, I’ll never be present long enough to discover all of the wonderful things a place has to offer even if it does take a while and might seem lonely. I’m trying this in the newest place I have moved and have had some phenomenal opportunities for growth, friendships, and self discovery. It’s definitely uncomfortable and lonely at times but I know down the road things will improve if I keep an open mind.
You carry home in your heart, it’s not a geography but a feeling. You just have to figure out what walls you put up around your heart that stop you from connecting with the world around. Once those come down, you’ll feel home everywhere you go and the search will be over.
MJanuary 7, 2017 at 4:55 pm #124795
Thank you both for your beautiful and vivid descriptions of “Home”.
Anita, you have a very interesting story. What did you think about living in Los Angeles as a city for that long, did you find it to be a more open place for different nationalities, or just a place like any other?
Maria Mango, thank you for this beautiful sentiment: “You carry home in your heart, it’s not a geography but a feeling. You just have to figure out what walls you put up around your heart that stop you from connecting with the world around. Once those come down, you’ll feel home everywhere you go and the search will be over.”
Your words touched my heart deeply. I think you’re right and deep inside, I’ve known this to be true for a long time. Still, I was hoping for a “magic bullet”, a place which would still my inner hunger for belonging. I thought LA would be that place.
But what I found there wasn’t a home. What happened was that I was faced with my own fears and in turn started breaking down those walls, the ones that have been cutting me off from the world around me. So LA did kind of get me closer to home, but not in the way I expected. It brought me closer to my own heart.
When we can heal those hurts within ourselves, maybe then we can feel at home in the world and walk without fear. That is my hope, one that I will never let go of. Best of luck to you, fellow Wanderers.January 7, 2017 at 5:58 pm #124797
Regarding your question: “did you find it to be a more open place for different nationalities, or just a place like any other?”- LA County, from the South Bay in the south to the San Fernando Valley in the north, from East LA east to West LA west, it is HUGE. Where you live within the county makes all the difference. Except that traffic is unbelievable heavy every single day for hours in the morning and hours in the afternoons and into the evening, sometimes extending beyond when there are accidents. Gang crime is a huge problem in many areas, as many neighborhoods “belong” to this or that gang. And there are many gangs. There are very wealthy areas and neighborhoods and very poor areas.
Rents and real estate prices are extremely high all over LA, mostly in the more desirable places, so it may be hard to feel at home when most of the paycheck goes to rent… for some, I imagine.
Is it a more open place for different nationalities- politically it is, that is most politicians in the Sacramento and LA are liberal- but there are plenty of people living in LA that are politically conservative.
anitaJanuary 7, 2017 at 11:35 pm #124810
Hmmm… Sweden vs. LA. I can tell you I’d go with Sweden in a heartbeat. Weather can be handled with clothing, heating, etc. Drive-by shootings… not so much. However, if you enjoy restrictions on people that favor the criminal element, high taxes, high crime rates, high property costs, earthquakes, rioting and looting, smog that rivals Beijing, and various other benefits of living in LA, then feel free.
Also, please don’t confuse “multicultural” with welcoming in all areas. As Anita stated, gangs control large areas of LA. As a Swede, you show up in a Crips area, you’ve probably got a problem. You wear the wrong color in the wrong area and you’ve got a problem. You make a wrong turn, you’ve got a problem.
Haven’t been to LA but have been to San Francisco and San Diego. I am 6’3″ and ~230 pounds. There were places there that, well, um, yeah… were “dark” as you described. I took a shuttle bus to SF’s airport for a red-eye flight out, and man, it was like watching the walking dead. The most ironic thing about that SF trip was being at a homicide conference held at a hotel around Fisherman’s Wharf, and hearing the very distinct sound of a pistol shot on the block (yeah, the city where supposedly guns are “controlled”).
California is very split in terms of ideology. The coastal area to a depth of 1-3 counties, particularly in the LA, SF, and SD areas is probably the most politically liberal thing you’ll ever find outside of parts of Colorado (Boulder) and Montana (Missoula). The rest of California is mostly conservative. However, because the population is on the coast, the people who live in the vast majority of the land area of the state get stuck with the city’s ideology.
“Home” is a cultural/societal construct of dubious merit. It’s created to sell “lifestyles.” It’s packaged and sold to bring people’s money to locations and to other individuals.