A word that most certainly evokes strong emotions, powerful thoughts and unique images in everyone's perception.
We all carry an idea in our head of what home means to us, or what we would like it to mean.
For some of us, the word brings about a sense of familiarity, security and happiness. For others; melancholy, longing, emptiness and even perhaps a sense of loss or absence of something that once was and no longer is.
Or something that never was in the first place.
Already as a child, I moved around extensively with my restless parents. As an adult, I unintentionally adopted this lifestyle, relocating and crossing country borders - and even continents - pretty much each decade. Thus as a consequence, the term home has become endlessly elusive and almost unattainable in my perception. At times I feel as if the search for a home and particularly the idea of belonging somewhere - has become the ultimate quest in my adult life.
During my childhood, nevertheless, home was a secure and very much a defined place. It was without a doubt where my immediate family was; my parents and my sister. I belonged with these people in no uncertain terms and the geographical location of the place made no difference to me. The numerous moves, the constant, anxious new school starts, the continuous effort of making new friends - it all interfered very little with the happiness I felt. Even the ultimate move, which made my family into immigrants, only reinforced the bond we shared and home was still a very substantial definition in my mind.
But then along the way somewhere, as I moved out on my own and set out to conquer the world, the meaning of a home became increasingly obscure. At first it encompassed my parents home, later the city where they lived, then a country and finally even an entire continent. In time I began to experience a sense of almost an identity confusion and the yearning to belong started to manifest itself. Gently at first, a subtle longing somewhere deep inside, perhaps almost a secret wish. I recall the first wave of nostalgia, realizing that I might never be able to call any country my home, no matter however much I try. As the bonds that once tied me to the place of my birth were forever severed and no new were possible to attain.
This realization came however with an acceptance and perhaps a certain sense of relief as well, or a freedom if you will. "Wherever I lay my hat, that's my home..." became my motto and made it easy for me to settle down effortlessly almost anywhere.
As I however grew older and started to look for and appreciate a certain deeper values in life, being a foreigner came to define who I was and thus my search for home - for a true home - became my quest.
And I believe, in retrospect, this quest brought me on a journey and a passionate search for love. I realized that I was looking for someone who would bring that sense of home I once felt, back to my reality. A man, that would offer me a safe harbour and terminate my restless voyage, by accepting and loving my estranged heart unconditionally. A man that would make me feel like I undoubtedly belonged by his side, the same way I once belonged with my family.
Only today I am sadly realizing that such a man most likely does not exist and my search only led me to numerous misty illusions.
My life is currently in the state of a change and as my future is heading in a novel direction, I find myself reevaluating the term home once again.
I still do not believe that it is only defined by a geographical location, although I have come to the understanding that certain places do evoke in us a strong sense of serenity, security and familiarity - whether these are memories of transcending moments spent in certain locations in our past, or current ties to a special place.
To some degree home is also truly defined by people - those that offer us security and the gift of an unconditional love, trust and deep care. It could be our near family, a significant other, our children, or it could be our friends.
Still, my new realization makes me see that a true home is something we carry with us and is that which we harbour within us. It can not be taken away from us as well as it can not be given to us. Some will find it with little effort, some of us never will.
I feel a strong desire these days to revisit my roots. Places where I used to live as a child and the city where I was born. As well as an infinite longing to once again be in the company of the only people that ever truly defined the term home for me.
Perhaps at times one has to go back to be able to move forward. Occasionally our answers for the future might lie in what we left behind.
And perhaps it is never too late to go back home.
(About the photographs in this post: All are taken by my father last year, in and around the place where I was born. I have not been back in the beautiful Tatra Mountains for almost twenty five years... Please click each image for a larger view.)
I was born under the Tatra Mountains, to a Czech father and a Slovak mother. I grew up in Sweden and lived almost ten years in North Carolina.
More than a decade ago my line of work took me to Denmark, where I live today. My home, which I share with the man that holds my heart, lies in the northerly part of a Danish peninsula, in the proximity of endless, wide and pristine westbound sandy beaches, surrounded by the rough and untamed North Sea.
My writing is defined by reflections on my cosmopolitan past and my intriguing present. Ultimately I try to convey in words and images my personal thoughts and feelings about life itself, with all its magic, natural splendour and the beauty of simple pleasures.