I have this extraordinary ability to call anywhere ‘home’ (not to be confused with ‘Home’, which refers to my parents’ house in France). It could be a guesthouse, a campsite, a van, a boat – basically anywhere my rucksack comes to rest for a few consecutive nights. I picked this habit up when backpacking India, Nepal, and Southeast-Asia in 2013.
Since then I have experienced a few more permanent ‘homes’, staying in one place as long as a year! (New Zealand will forever feel like my true home – the place I am destined to be). I feel this is a trait of a true traveller, and also a sign of adaptability.
Sometimes a place doesn’t truly feel like home until you leave it. Living in Christchurch, we had a lovely two-bedroom flat, a car, full time jobs, and amazing friends. We even ‘nested’ a fair bit and decorated the place to our liking (although we didn’t own chairs and ate sitting on the floor for a year!) Moving on felt like leaving a little piece of my heart behind, something I also experienced when we sold Eileen, our big yellow van, and home for nine months. I still miss both terribly, but cherish the memories that we have of them.
We have just returned to Shikoku, and are in fact driving back towards the Iya Valley as I write this. Today we flew back from ten days in Seoul, and while it was great to experience a new city, driving along with the hazy blue mountains as a backdrop feels like coming home. After all the rain (you may have seen footage of the recent terrible flooding in Japan) the sun is finally shining and the rice paddies look like sparkling fields of emeralds in the afternoon light. I take a long, deep breath – the air feels so clean and tastes of nature.
I didn’t really notice the thickness of the city air until returning to this little gem of an island. We have only spent three months in Iya so far, and yet we already feel pride in saying that we ‘live’ there. The same applies when we say we lived in Christchurch – I love that strong, little city with a passion and will always defend it if anyone has anything bad to say!
What it comes down to is this; ‘Home’ doesn’t have to be where you grow up, or even somewhere you have spent much time. It is true what they say: Home really is where the heart is (and yes, you can leave pieces of your heart in many different places – they will always be there to welcome you home.)