What is home? Is it a place on a map? Is it defined by the people you love? Or is it simply the place where your heart resides?
For me, the word home conjures up a sense of safety, love and belonging. Right now, home is particularly defined by my children. My deepest connection is with them. I belong to them and they belong to me. But they are growing up and in the blink of an eye they will move out to forge their own lives.
But home for me is more than my family. It is also a place that has held fast to my heart for most of my adult life.
When I was in my early 20’s, I traveled overseas to Australia and was lovestruck. I felt a profound connection to the land, beyond anything I could understand or articulate. I touched down on Australian soil and felt a rush of visceral memories flood my body, half-formed impressions I couldn’t quite grasp or make sense of, but which were profoundly moving. I was so touched by the sensation, I wept. I felt like I was reuniting with a mother I never knew I had. Like after a long journey, I had finally come home.
I’ve traveled back and forth to Australia five times now, and a sixth trip is in the works (while fate has not delivered me permanently to her shores, it did deliver me a brother who is an airline captain, thus making standby travel affordable). When I head there later this year, it will be 30 years, almost to the day, since I first stepped foot on her shores. In all that time, my love for Australia has never wavered. If nothing else, it can be said that I am resolutely loyal.
This connection to a distant land has been a blessing and a curse. It has opened up to me the unimaginable beauty of feeling a sense of place in the world. It has also left me yearning for something beyond my reach. It has left me displaced.
I suppose it’s not accurate to say the love I have for Australia is unrequited. She has welcomed me with open arms each time I’ve visited. It was there that my first blog, Wanderlust, flourished. I’ve developed deep and lasting friendships with her people. And when my life fell into darkness, she drew me into her arms, and held me there for a spell while I caught my breath.
I’ve lived many places around the U.S. in my life: San Francisco, Arlington, Fort Worth, Santa Fe, Seattle, Kansas City. Some of them have been quite lovely, but my affection for them has been…platonic. Of all the places I’ve set up house, none have ever felt like a final destination.
It appears I only have room in my heart for one true love. She may be half a world away, but all these years later, I still call Australia home.