A Home is Where We Can Be Ourselves.
I always saw myself and often describe my life as somewhat rootless. A friend recently described me as somewhat bohemian, (a term I don’t particularly care for). Despite the romantic idea of moving around from place to place as being appealing, the logistics are often cause for reflection. I’ve moved house over 30 times; worked, loved and lived in three different countries. I’ve set up and taken down so many homes, it’s become a distorted hobby, and with every move I’ve made, and through my staunch defense of impermanence, I deeply long for a place to call home. The feeling of moving my life, my memories and my base once more is becoming a more daunting experience than I thought in the past. Every move, every packing of glasses, and books, and precious personal items, becomes more and more difficult.
With every move to another home, another apartment, and another space, I pick up new memories, new stories and new pieces of the puzzle. This idea that my childhood home would always be my home really was never a concept I subscribe to, and neither does my family. We are nomads, travelers, explorers of sorts; each a part of the never ending puzzle. Athens to Massachusetts to New York to London to Athens to New York to…. It’s a circle of connections one more interesting than the next.
2001 Leaving South London
I arrived in London from New York in September 2000, and while I had a soft spot for this great metropolis since my early childhood, living and studying there was an eye opening experience I would recommend to anyone. London is a city deeply rooted in history, art, music, theater, and cultural revolutions; it oozes tradition, yet the same stuffy London is host to the most progressive dance parties and groundbreaking art scene in all of Europe. Going toe to toe with Berlin, and Amsterdam; London is a pretty crazy diverse, interesting, experimental city, with some rad royals. Some of my closest, truest friendships were born there, my passion for the arts and culture was cultivated there, and my 20 years ( plus) yoga practice was minted there. Some 20 years on, I still connect with people I love and cherish in London. Their lives woven with mine, creating a tapestry and a life spanning more than 25 years.
Athens wasn’t and didn’t feel like home at the time. I had been away from Greece for over 10 years; moving as a family the first time in 1991 to live near my American Grandmother. A crazy experiment my family thought prudent at the time. I would stay a year, and go to an American School and then come back in a couple years for high school.
Returning to Athens 10 years later as a 23 year old was a like a punch in the face for this starry eyed idealistic Greek kid with an American upbringing. London served as a happy medium for “freaks” like myself. There are many (too many to count) Greeks living in London and like the countless Greeks who live abroad for many years, we think, maneuver and live differently. As a Greek American I felt more normal there than I did in Western Massachusetts, New York or Athens.
After living and studying in London for nearly two years, I packed my boxes for what seemed like the millionth time, while preparing to leave a friend’s apartment in North London. (My third move in almost 2 years.)
I moved from North London, to South London (Oval), back to North London (Angel) and even further North east; while frantically trying to finish my dissertation for my Masters Degree. I worked odd jobs to make ends meet, practiced Ashtanga Yoga at an amazing school and was living my life London Style. Which means flat broke but loving it, getting experimental hair cuts and dye jobs at the Vidal Sassoon School and hanging out at some of the best dance clubs in Europe.
One of my many homes at the time was the home of a still dear friend in North London near Angel. I spent the bulk of my year there, writing my dissertation, falling in love with a hot guy, who liked me so much, I thought he was crazy, and going to seedy underground clubs in Shoreditch and Hoxton (before it became popular).
When my studies were complete I packed up my life, with not the faintest idea of what I was going to do upon returning to Athens. Going back to New York seemed like a bad idea after September 11th, so in October 2001 I was on a plane back to Greece for what seemed like a permanent stay. I was leaving everything I had focused on in London to return to Athens; with no better excuse other than this deep need to be back near my family and my birthplace. After 10 years away in America and London, I was deeply changed, but eager to embrace my roots anew, and figure out the next step. Truthfully, I had no idea what I was getting into; but I was open to pure adventure, chaos, disappointment, new beginnings, and of course many many more apartments, houses and more houses where bits and pieces of my life’s puzzle were created. I don’t regret moving from place to place. I find that each place has something to teach us, but sometimes the lessons are harsher and harsher.
A House is Not a Home
The picture will be complete when it is ready, each piece so significant and unique in its own way. A home is where you can be complete, a home is not only where your heart is but where you are. The journey of discovering where is your home takes time. For some it is exactly where they started, and for others a journey to a whole new place. What remains true through every move and every journey is the mantra ” όπου γη και πατρίς.
The idea behind this Greek nugget of wisdom is that wherever you may find yourself on this earth/land, that is your home. And you carry your home wherever you may be. I take my home in my heart in my memories in my family. The ones I love who are closest to me are my home. Greece is my home, America is my home, New York is my home, Brooklyn is my home and this apartment I will soon leave from; was my home.
The next home awaits and the chapter begins. Boxes, memories, stories are packed carefully, so as to not break and the journey continues.
Please feel free to share your story:
Where do you feel most at home, and have you left your home to find another?