My first really big project developed itself into a discourse on the nature of home. Winter, senior year of college, my best friend Jen and I drove cross country to explore Native American culture in the United States, mostly focused on the Lakota Sioux, also known as Oglala, in South Dakota. I came away from that project clearly seeing how so many Native Americans consider this land their home, yet they have been displaced from it. I am the opposite. I have not been forcibly moved, and yet my connection to the United States is far more tenuous.
No place is really home to me.
Brooklyn? It once was home, but I don't feel that way anymore. South Africa? I don't even remember it. Atlanta? My parents sold the house I grew up in almost a decade ago, and while I feel entirely comfortable in their house, it doesn't feel like home to me. Panama? No. South of France? Gorgeous, but not home.
In a sense, Noah, Lila and I attempt to create our home in Salta, but I suspect no where will ever have the weight and permanence of what I think home should have. Perhaps that's why travel comes so easily to me. I don't feel sad when I leave a place because for me leaving is as inevitable an event as arriving.
But staying, relaxing, creating a place, one place that is no longer an apartment, la casa or even a tent, but is regardless of brick and mortar, independent of form and furniture, a place I feel safe calling home, that has eluded me thus far.
I suspect I'm not interested in having a real home.
I like flitting around, a couple months here, a few days there. So on the eve of our return to Salta, I find myself apprehensive. We plan to go back, rent a house for a couple years (yes, years!), work, live life. And so you know, we decided to stay in Salta -- aside from it being a lovely place to live -- when Lila told us she didn't want to move around anymore. "Why do we keep going places and not staying," she asked. So it was time to be still for a while.
I'm finding the prospect of creating one place as home, becoming an expat instead of a traveler, as difficult and overwhelming as the process of selling everything and packing up to go. It's Newton's Law of Motion applied to travel. A body at rest prefers to remain at rest, and a body in motion, well, you know how it goes.
Yesterday, I asked Lila where she calls home.
She points straight down to the ground. "Right here," she told me. Right in Granny and Grandpa's house. She is also excited to go back to Salta, to return to school and see her friends and teachers.
I find great satisfaction in the thought that somehow, we have created a life for Lila in which she has a space to call her own. Maybe more than one even.
Photo courtesy of eyesplash's flickrstream