Saturday, July 28, 2007

Home Sweet Nothings

One night earlier in the week, I agreed to meet up with a friend-by-association to have dinner of Belgian mussels, racks of lamb, stoemp and fruit beers. It was one of those polite courtesy dinners that came as a result of the "we need to get together and catch up" line -- those that we always say but rarely mean. The dinner was set a good week prior and I had doubts as to how long we can keep a conversation going without hitting any brick walls of awkwardness. I have never hung out with her without my sister present, who happens to be our binding glue. As a matter of fact, she's my sister's really good friend. And because I am my sister's sister, by association, that makes me her very good friend too. Second helpings of logic, anyone?

"See? I think that you and I are more alike than me and your sister is," she said with a flourish as she took a dainty sip of her beer.

I almost choked on the pesto-covered mussel that was trying to make its way down my esophagus. "Excuse me?" I asked. "How did you derive that conclusion?"

"Because even though your sister is seemingly the stronger one being the oldest one in the family, she actually is quite emotional and harbors attachments to certain things and people," she explained. "And we're not like that. We're very independent and free from those."

I still don't get it though.

She must have seen the confused look in my eyes because she prodded on. "Like, for instance, you're the type of person who would consider the place you're currently living in as home," she retorted. "Most people only consider the place where they were born or grew up in as home even though they're living somewhere else. And haven't gone 'home' in a while."

My god, she sussed this out of me within half an hour? "Really?" I asked cautiously. "What makes you think that?"

"Simple," she answered helping herself to the fries. "You referred to your house in Manila as your 'parents' house' instead of just 'home.' Why? Where is home for you?"

Good question. I don't know. And neither did I catch myself referring to my parents' house as my parents' house. Could it be one of those psychological mumbo-jumbos about the subconscious and all?

My friend seemed to have hit home within a span of that minute. And she has totally caught me off guard because admittedly, I have never gotten around to thinking about it. Where is home indeed? Better yet, when did home stop being home for me?

It would already have been a decade next year since I moved out of our house when I was seventeen. I cannot imagine where time has gone to. All I know is that within that decade (well, almost), I may have moved at least ten times. Because I moved/move a lot, I have learned to live with minimal things. Not the bare minimum, mind you, just minimal. The idea of packing up boxes and boxes of rubbish brings tears to my eyes not because of emotional and sentimental reasons, but because the idea is just so tiring and exhausting. The more I moved, the more I learned about possessing just the essential stuff -- and having to let go of the unnecessary baggage. After all, it isn't all the time that there will be someone to help you with your baggages -- and I meant that both literally and figuratively. Pun intended!

I may be the typical girl having too much make-up, too many shoes and an excessive amount of clothes in my possession, but I assure you that when push comes to shove, I can be out of this apartment within two hours carrying everything that is important for me to live on and actually survive on. Sure, I have the token heirlooms, jewelry pieces and critical documents that I can't afford to lose, but other than that, I can leave everything behind.

I learned that though not everything is replaceable, there are many things that are. And we agonize so much about the complications that we have in our lives when in truth, zoom out to see the bigger picture, and it's actually very simple. If you want something to happen, do it whilst only taking what you need. Anything in excess will just kill the journey because it will gobble up extra energy and resources. When you get there, you can always build your home all over again. Until the next one comes along, that is. Then you do everything all over again -- maybe with a little bit more to bring, maybe less. It depends. Who knows, one day you may just hit your final destination where you can build your home for one last time.

I know I will always have a home at my parents' house. However, I could no longer call it my home because I'm not there often enough to dress the place with my soul. It was my first home and it will always serve as my launching pad for my subsequent homes. And wherever I decide to build my current home at, I will always remember my first home because I will always take a piece of it with me. My alarm clock has traveled the world with me since I purchased it when I was eleven. It has woken me up every morning for fifteen years. It has stood on numerous bedside tables and it has survived many seasons. My home is where that alarm clock is.

"Ohmygod," my friend exclaimed. "It's already ten-thirty! I think I have to go, I promised the maid I'd be home by ten."

Honestly, where does time go when I'm not looking?

"I had fun though," she smiled. "We really should do this more often."

"I know. We need to get together again and catch up," I said.

And this time, I meant it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the interpetation of "home" is like when people say, "How are you today?" Some just use the word (or phrase) as a toll to make a legitimate sentence. For others, it more of a meaning then the word itslf. I'm a latter kind of person.

I've never really had a place to call home, but I've been at home in many places or with certain people.


2:08 AM  
Blogger Sling said...

I have the same attitude toward possessions princess.So many times I've packed everything up in a couple of hours,(one time..15 minutes),and never looked back.For me,home is not so much a place,as it is a time.
The '50s is where I feel most at home.

2:22 AM  
Blogger jellyhead said...

What an great insight into your personality ... your sister's friend is very intuitive.

I almost envy your ability to live life lightly ... but then another part of me enjoys my attachment to my home. This is where I began my marriage to my husband, where I paced through the first stages of labour, where we brought each of our children home from the hospital, and where the dog greets me excitedly whenever I return.

I think sometimes these things are affected by what life stage we are at. I used to consider home to be whatever flat or house I was sharing with friends. These days I am getting older and crustier and more set in my nesting ways! Maybe one day you'll come over to the dark side ;)

4:59 AM  
Blogger James said...

ah, Princess, you shine a light on things I have never even given a minute's thought to! Sounds like you have got the travelling light and moving thing down to a fine art.
My definition of home I guess is anywhere my wife and I are together. Home is the bond not a place.

5:30 AM  
Blogger it's the little things... said...

Having moved over 30 times in my lifetime, I have to think of home as where my children and I presently live.
And, as for this 'new friend', I have found that my best friends in my lifetime are those that for some reason I didn't think I would like in the first place.
Funny how you can be so completely wrong about things....

10:19 AM  
Blogger eastcoastdweller said...

Home is wherever my books are.

And when I came to my east coast home, that is pretty much all that I brought with me.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Lord Chimmy said...

I love the minimalist approach to home decor. I, too, hate packing boxes. I hate being surrounded by "stuff." It is claustrophobic to be buried in "things."

This was a good post. It made me think about home...even though I'm not sure where home is.

11:27 AM  
Blogger The Acid Tongue said...

i am almost like you. i consider home where i presently am. though i do carry along what you call excess luggage unless i intentionally dump some things in hope of gettin better ones at the new place ;)

good riddance, actually!

Very well written, princess!

11:38 AM  
Blogger Ps said...

I could so realate to this post--having never lived more than three years on an average in any place, my whole life.
Home is--where you feel it is.(although after having kids, my thinking has slightly changed--in the sense that, home is where my kids and husband happen to be!)

12:13 PM  
Blogger Vik said...

Fair enough, I would say 'home' is where you think you have a fair share of privacy and peace. Regardless of the fact that it could be anywhere. I like what you said "Own the essentials alone", how much I agree to what you said after I had such a tough time relocating from the US. Doing it alone does not make matters any good.

Anyway, I can line up my ducks to the note you wrote above.

12:41 PM  
Blogger thethinker said...

Wow. That observation about what you consider a home is interesting. She seems like a very perceptive person.

I can't imagine how it would be to move ten times. I've only moved once in my life.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Libby said...

princess...this is as great post! something i've never even thought of! i've never lived 'minimally'...i'm kinda a packrat...but, really, my only essential is my books!!

2:21 PM  
Blogger Alice said...

Your post reminded me of January 2003 when bushfires hit our city of Canberra (Australia's Capital) and 520 homes were destroyed in one night. For the next two weeks we were on high fire alert in case fires came through our area. We had the cars packed with photos, my daughter's half made patchwork quilt, documents, my sewing machine and a few clothes and linen. When it came to thinking what to pack, we realised that very little is truly irreplaceable - photos and documents may be the exception.

We realised that if our house burned down, we would lose a lot of things that we would prefer to keep, but everything essential to life could be replaced.

Fortunately, we survived that period unscathed - and the house is still overfull with unnecessary stuff

I don't think of the house I grew up in as home, but I still feel like I've come home to some extent whenever I cross the border back into the State in which I grew up, even though I lived there for 30 years, and I've been 33 years in this State.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Jac said...

You made me think about something that I never much think and worry about.

I think it works on stages.

For a period my home was where my mom was. After that it has been pretty vague.

But of lately, my home is where I have lot flowers and trees grown in my backyard, cared and tended my me when I am on my vacations, where my dogs somehow sniffs out the end of my 28 days work and waits looking at the gate where my car will come in.
My part time gardener cum watchman says that my dogs somehow know of my arrival days atleast two days before.

Lovely popst I would say.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Vengelyne said...

My home is the place that I'm staying in right now, which is my parents' place, which also happens to be a place that I've never stayed away from. Yeah, I was staying at home when studying and all the way till working. Heh. My mom said I can call it my home as long as I'm not married. =)

9:39 PM  
Blogger Crushed by Ingsoc said...

I don't regard my parents house as home, haven't since I was a kid.
I sometimes think of the place I went to uni as home.

But home, if it's anywhere, is a place where my rules apply. So it moves when I move.

If the CDs in the living room are mine, if the wallhangings mean something to me, its home.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Lefty said...

There is a lot to be said for carrying only what is necessary on this journey. You are right; baggage of all kinds slows us down.

11:11 PM  
Blogger utopia said...

i can so relate to moving around all the time. i moved out too at 17 and been 7 years then. hopping, skipping and jumping from one city to another. quite a nomad actually.and thanks for dropping by :).

11:20 PM  
Blogger SJ said...

Home is where as you beautifully said "we paint it with our soul". It could be a place in the past which you still are attached to it could the current. Good post.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

I would suggest that referring to where you live and not where you grew up as 'home' is a sign of maturity and adulthood, not a lack of feeling.


12:47 AM  
Blogger Rashi said...

nice post princess..home is the place in making..try a day when u dont devote time to it and it'll be gone..a home no more !
its we who make it..and call it home...

great must say!

12:56 AM  
Blogger Queen of Dysfunction said...

Wow, that is very insightful and made for a great post. It's almost like the blog version of Walden.

Good reading!

12:58 AM  
Anonymous maverick said...

vow thts a good one. ur post drowned me into thoughts abt my home.i left my parents's house when i was 16 and i've been in different places since then for my education.whenever i had to mention home, newhere i always mentioned two places - my parents's house n the place im currently living.i believe life's living in the moment.

btw love ur blog so iam blogrolling u.

3:02 AM  
Blogger wildflower said...

dunno when we grow out of our parental homes into the big bad world...and have 'homes' we call out own...quite a thought inducing post Princess!

4:02 AM  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

Invite me. I will come!

4:14 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

We've moved many times so this was interesting for me.
Four walls do not a home make. As others said, it's often the people you share the space with, or the time, and, less often, the stuff you've accumulated that make a place feel like home. But often the latter just weighs you down. I also think everyone has a spiritual home, a physical place they are very attached to, whether or not they are able to be there. For me it would be Ireland.
And of course, you can't beat a purring cat or tail wagging dog at the door to greet you, to make a place feel homey!

4:26 AM  
Blogger Nivi said...

"I learned that though not everything is replaceable, there are many things that are"

How how how true!!!!

4:41 AM  
Blogger mathew said...

nice post as usual...Although i never bother or think deep into the finer points like you friend did..for me it is alway where my parents are staying is home..I have changed places thrice in one year..and each time I had a little nostalgia of the old place which got over in a few days..

btw the best thing about you writing is that you write as you think..i mean the flow is terrific..You make the reader go through the same thought process as yours!!!

5:02 AM  
Blogger ThanKwee-Anajo said...

I love this story. I was so into what I was reading that it was as if I was in your shoes.

Just goes to show that first impressions may be misleading. :)

7:52 AM  
Blogger the walking man said...

I went for an appreciable number of years with hoe being wherever I laid my head down. Flop houses, people's couch i met along the way and many times just among the trees and stars.

Home was whatever I carried on my back.

Then I and my old lady found each other and i knew i was home wherever she wanted it to be, even though it was pretty much where i started at. The house and everything in could all burn to ash but as long as her and the dog were with me I would be home.

Peace, much peace.


8:52 AM  
Blogger Kati said...

Strange, isn't it??? Up until about 2 years ago, I thought of my Dad's house as home. And there's a part of me that still does. But, now it's more about the yard and the property, than the house itself. But more than that, I'm finally coming to realize that I've made this neighbourhood & this small town my home, and it feels odd (considering how badly I wanted to get away, when I was a teen), but it feels good.

It's interesting how "home" can mean so many different things to different people, even those from the same family. I don't know about my middle sis, but I know my baby sis hates our town (& the whole state), even though she's never lived anywhere else. We moved from the state she was born in before she was two, but she still considers that her "home-town", though she was raised here, simply because she hates "here".

May you never NEED to pick up & leave with only the bare necessities & the absolutely unlosable items. But it's certainly a good thing to recognize that which is necessary versus unnecessary.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

Im such a BIG packer..
sad, I know :(


11:04 AM  
Blogger RAFFI said...

today, as an adult and away from where i grew up with my family, i call where i reside (nyc) home. but when i tell people where i'm from, or where 'back home' is, i refer to where my family lives (seattle). my parents home will always be home, it's just that i've changed and when i go there i realize that.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Living On Video said...

This time around, I can actually relate to this post, just having moved away from, 'home.'

5:42 PM  
Blogger William said...

You sound like my bro. He has been away in boarding school since 12, and worked in SG for 10 years now. And when he goes home, he never feels at home.

5:55 PM  
Blogger fifi said...

It is an interesting comment about notions of home in these times of global migration, and people moving so far away from their place of birth.

I travelled vastly for quite some time, but travel is completely different when one does have a home, ie, a nest, where eggs have been laid and hatched, lives been lived.
For some the nest is mobile, others not. But the concept of travel, and home, is different for me now that I actually have a piece of earth I call my own.

I have a dear dear friend who has lived abroad for many years, yet the thought that he may never return "home" cuts into my heart like a knife. Yet where was home has now been all but erased, and if he did return here, it would be to an altered place.
Home is sometimes a state of flux.


6:57 PM  
Blogger Jennifer McK said...

I'm actually one of those that attaches to a PLACE. I remember when I first moved to Eureka (having moved several times in the last seven years) and I thought "home". I've never left. Even through divorce, job changes and other stuff, Humboldt County has been my home.
I'm willing to move (though the thought brings tears to MY eyes) but this place will always be home to me.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Lucid Darkness said...

What place can we call 'home'. The words 'home' and 'house' surely cannot mean the same thing, can they?

"I know I will always have a home at my parents' house. However, I could no longer call it my home because I'm not there often enough to dress the place with my soul. "

~ 'Home' is where you can feel bits and pieces of yourself while flitting about the rooms, I think.

I loved the way you said that your home lies where you have that alarm clock. It's an important part of you, your childhood, your past and your present. :]

Another awesome post! :D

10:45 PM  
Blogger paddy said...

The house I grew up in is still there with people I've never seen or never will, just like I'll never see the house again - I'd say/guess, but I can't say for sure. If ever I was back in Dublin I might just breeze by to take a look, and remember .....s. Why, I don't know. I guess I will never let it go, the good the bad and the ugly. The memories whistle through my head like Clint did just now with that same eerie sound of emptiness: the things not said and things not done that will always be home.
Y;-) Paddy.

11:58 PM  
Blogger The Exception said...

I loved this post. SO often what you write strikes a note in me. Given I am at work, I do not have the time to respond as I would like. This time, for this post, if you don't mind... I would just like to write my own post this week in response.

12:40 AM  
Blogger Still searching said...

Really great post!! Firstly, what struck me is that I also call whereverI'm staying currently as "home"... and a lot of people get confused and wonder - u mean delhi, or bbsr or new jersey?? And I'm like, wherever I feel at home! I didn't realise this makes someone like me sound more independent! I guess its becoz I havent stayed in one place since I was 11 yrs old! I went to boarding school then we moved cities, then later I got a job and moved to different continents! But my first "home", my parents house, is always "home"... but so is everywhere else! Haha.. (ok I'm going to stop rambling!)

I liked what you said about baggage!

12:41 AM  
Blogger The Exception said...

I loved this post. SO often what you write strikes a note in me. Given I am at work, I do not have the time to respond as I would like. This time, for this post, if you don't mind... I would just like to write my own post this week in response.

12:46 AM  
Blogger Glamorous Redneck said...

Wow. Interesting dinner, huh?

Home is always San Diego for me. Which is weird because my house is my home too. But the place where I spent my youth is so important to me because it helped me become who I am today. And when I'm back there, I'm instantly more comfortable and more relaxed. But it feels like home here too. Because this is where my kids are making their "home".

If that makes any sense at all. . .

2:43 AM  
Blogger Princess Pointful said...

Hey! Thanks for stopping by my blog... I like what I've read from you!

This actually fits so well with my recent musings... it takes a real strength of self to realize that home is in you, not a location. I'm glad to have figured that out.

3:02 AM  
Blogger Arcturus said...

What's stoemp?

I hope you don't think this too irreverent, but when I read the sentence about how your alarm clock has traveled the world with you, I was thinking of your entry a month or so ago about marriage and how it is treated too lightly ... It reminded me of the great Mae West line in the movie "My Little Chickadee."

This man says to Mae West, "I've been married 5 times," and she retorts, "Huh! To you, wedding bells must be like an alarm clock!"

Seriously, though, a very nice entry this is. I enjoyed reading it. It seems to me you are a very insightful and spiritual-minded person.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

I identify with this post... having spent the last 14 years of my life outside my "home" home. And I also like your attitude in this case: although we may carry a relic of our past with us, we always need to dig our roots wherever we are at present and call it home.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Behind Blue Eyes said...

well, you've read my post. You know we differ. I don't get rid of much. Though if I had to get rid of everything but just a few things, I know that one of the things I would keep would be my photos.

8:08 AM  
Blogger X. Dell said...

Your sister's best friend is certainly observant. No telling what she might divine on a second meeting.

Then again, there's always the chance that she'll overreach (she probably does, in fact), and make an assumption that doesn't apply to whomever she's observing. In all cases, I seek a second opinion.

As for me, home is wherever my heart is. When I met my parents in Las Vegas for a off-the-cuff trip earlier this year, it felt like being at home, for they're the only real attraction that I have to that city I come from.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Miss Smack said...

Great post ! I really enjoyed it

11:09 AM  
Blogger Ankit said...

I still feel my home is where my parents stay ... it gives me a great peace of mind to go to their place

12:07 PM  
Blogger LADY LUXIE said...

I think of myself as a turtle when it comes to homes. I carry mine wherever I go!


2:39 PM  
Blogger Smita said...

I empathize - I am a mover girl too - same age and have been roaming for a decade. It gets difficult to explain to people why I prefer that to 'settling' down, I don't know myself maybe, but I know I have grown and learnt a lot - that I would not have had I settled for what I had then.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Zee said...

very nice....though i can't relate to it coz i've stayed "home" most of my life....minus 2 yrs of post grad but that place was just not fit to be home!!!

1:08 AM  
Blogger Crashdummie said...

wow, this was a great post, something I can learn alot from.

I loved your definition of home... and possesions, well there comes a point when you dont own your possesion, hey own you.

4:19 AM  
Blogger Wanderlust Scarlett said...


Wow. Ok, how much truth can you cram into one post?!
Acquaintance friends... yes. I have those too... and we smile and wave politely, kiss cheeks... make empty vows to 'get together soon'... egh how shallow of me.

I love to endulge in second helpings of logic.

It's kind of cool but eery in a strange way that she dismantled your brain like that and you weren't aware of it. Yikes. I have friends who do that... SO unnerving.

The rest of this was like looking in a mirror.

The fire alarm has gone off in my building SEVERAL times in the last few months. The first couple of times I thought, 'ok... think fast, what goes with me?' I grabbed my camera, laptop and purse. Turned at the door and looked back at my world... there was nothing that was important enough for me to go back for. Not photos, not tangible memories... nothing.

And so everytime it goes off now, I don't even stop to look. Camera, laptop & purse.

Wonder if that's the photojournalist in me.

Excellent post.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

4:25 AM  
Blogger self taught artist said...

home is wherever you live eh? silly to call your parents home or a place you used to live 'home'.

I love that you went out for dinner and had a totally unexpected evening, its refreshing when people we don't think get us, get us more than we could ever imagine. Sometimes just connecting once is enough but if you get more enjoy!

7:51 AM  
Blogger Jeya Anand said...

nice post..get togethers and dinners leave an impact on the them.. and abt home that was lovely..u carry ur alarm with u for more than 10 yrs? unbelievable!! if i had, it would have been dead by half a year tryin to wake me up daily .. poor alarm..:-)

1:15 PM  
Blogger The Black King said...

Wow, somebody has got some mind-reading abilities here. But what you say is true --- we all need to decide what is our home and where we feel safe and good about ourselves, and return "home" after a weary day's work. Lovely post!

2:12 PM  
Blogger Ab said...

hey even i hate packing....
actually i like moving, or shifting - becos i love change, and planning and stuff - but without mom to pack, mann, its crazy! and i can never pack my stuff into a bag without making the bag bulge on all sides.

and iv started to be philosophical with the things i collect... i used to be like this typical kid who collects all the small things and stows it away to use later, but even ages after that, it will not have been used.... mostly its paper cuttings and things rather than tangible stuff, though!
anyway, Iv started weeding all that becaus somehow, i think it reflects in your attitudes... dont have too much of baggage in your lives... have only what you really need...

and HELLO, YOU OUGHT TO REPLY TO COMMENTS, OKAY? of course, i know 50 comments is a lot, but you should... please

3:39 PM  
Blogger Cuckoo said...

I normally read your post in reader but this time it compelled me to comment here.
Again a good post. Nice thought.
That first home, that launching pad is never going to go away. That is our benchmark.

Off topic- BTW, when you liked the game on my blog, why didn't you participated ? Next time make sure you do it. :)

6:24 PM  
Blogger foam said...

possessions..can be clutter in one's life.
home is where your alarm clock is. i like that. i usually just say 'home is where the heart is and my heart is right here (while thumping my chest)...
sounds like you made a new friend.

9:23 PM  
Blogger adithya said...

I dont know i could somehow relate to that alarm clock thingy very much "My home is where that alarm clock is".. yeah totally... been away from my " parent house" since 16.. so I get it.. my interpretation of home is.. anywhere our work takes us.. ( I know sounds kinda workaholic "mumbo-jumbo".. :D).. but true aint it?

11:39 PM  
Blogger Crashdummie said...

Btw, there's an award waiting for you at Crashed Site :)

5:59 PM  

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