For the past seven weeks I've been in Canada. It's the country where I was born, raised, and spent most of my life. It's home.
Home is something of a tricky subject for those of us who live/work abroad, or travel often enough to be considered nomadic. For us, home can be a tough nut to crack. Is home where your mailing address is? Is it where your friends and family live? Where you grew up? Is it where the majority of your crap is, that place where your books or DVD's or maybe even a rarely-worn suit is kept? Maybe home is just the run-down hostel you're presently crashing in, a creaky bunk bed in a room full of sweaty – but lovely – backpackers.
The older I get, and the more I wander about, the more home loses its meaning. Or, more accurately, the more home expands its meaning.
I have an apartment in Sweden these days. I can mumble enough of the language to get by, navigate around the country without too much embarrassment, and live as a relatively functional adult there. I pay rent, I pay taxes, I shop at Swedish grocery stores, and I go to Swedish hospitals. It's home, and day by day it grows more familiar. Slow and steady.
Now, over these past seven weeks in Canada I've slept in guest rooms and basements, on friends couches and in living rooms. I haven't had my own space, but I have been in a generally-familiar space. I think, in part, that's all that home is for most of us: a familiar space.
Which is why I said home keeps expanding it's meaning to me: because the more I trek around, the more familiar I am with the world at large, and with myself. Home isn't just small-town Canada anymore. It's now Sweden and Canada. But it's more than that, too. I've spent almost 8 months in Japan, over three trips. You could drop me off in Sapporo or Okinawa and I'd be able to get by without losing a beat. I'd just hunt down some 7/11 inari and hop on the next bullet train to wherever I please. (likely a monastery)
But, once again, it's more than that.
Now, I'm no extremely well-travelled individual – I've been to just under 30 countries in my 30 years here on planet Earth. Sure, I've done some cool things, like walking the Camino or exploring Mongolia. Heck, I've even climbed Mount Fuji...but even I'm not familiar with every nook and cranny of the wild blue yonder. However, I am familiar with being lost. With exploring. With gruesome shock and unexpected heartbreak. With researching. With sleeping on floors and couches, in hostels and hotels and airports. With meeting new people, at home and abroad.
After 30 years and 30 countries I'm comfortable in my own skin, regardless of the imaginary borders and waving flags that surround me.
After 30 years and 30 countries, I'm home. Always.