For most of us, visiting home is an enriching experience. We have the expats who yearn for their homeland every now and then. There are others who see their folks occasionally despite living in the same city, the boarding school category. Let’s also not forget the wanderers who travel for leisure or work but for whom home is where family is. There is something that draws you to your home because at the heart of your spiritual core lies your family, your room, your porch, your terrace, your dinner table and everything else that made an impact in your childhood. Nobody can change this core of yours, including yourself. You travel, explore mesmerising places, meet friends all over the world, obtain a world-class education, work tirelessly, achieve your dreams. But even as the waves of time flow by, repeatedly altering your surroundings, there will still be some portion of you that’s unchanging, a core that is linked to your folks, connected to your home.
It’s funny how every time you do come home, you start noticing the little things that were previously (and probably still) a massive part of your life – the room you studied in during high school, your recreation room, the colour of your walls, the smell of your garden, the memories photographed into albums and frames, the shop around the corner where you got your groceries as a kid, the tailor at the end of the street who mended your clothes, the balcony that saw a million coffee cups, the dinner table echoing years worth of conversations, your favourite local food place, your sketchbook, your computer, your neighbours, your backyard, your quiet corner, and so on. These things was a blur while you were growing up, busy achieving the next big thing in your life. I believe the reason you would revisit this “already travelled” path is not solely to cherish the memories. You do so when you hit a crisis of sorts. When you contemplate in isolation the choices you have made, the victories and failures you have faced and what you could have done differently as you were growing up. The fear of life without a purpose starts sinking in. Reminiscing is a great form of relief because you know somewhere in your hindsight that it’s impossible for your core to leave you.
Home trips are not always as great as you picture them to be. They are a beautiful mess. It’s a magnified version of life. You expect something and you get something else. You hope to do or say a particular thing but that does not always happen. You think you will get that support but you might not. The primary reason for the chaos is your family, who know you in and out, or at least most of them think they do. They know your strengths and your vulnerabilities at your core because they are your core. So let’s make peace with the fact that it’s not going to be sumptuous dinners, good laughs at the movies, family getaways with intriguing games and perfect memories captured on your screens. There will be unavoidable arguments, awkward silences, uncomfortable conversations and maybe even screaming and the throwing of things around… It’s a package that you cannot run away from because it will be delivered to you, by your people, at your place.
The mess is yours. You either clean it up, or let your folks do it for you. You go home with your baggage and expect them to solve your issues for you during those two weeks. The good thing about the mess is that it helps you grow. It makes you feel more organic, more real. It’s a break from the monotonous life you live by yourself. The friction needs you as much as you need it, to make you feel loved, alive, belonged and a part of something that is yours and yours alone, no matter how complicated it might be. At the end of the day, no matter how lousy the day was or how annoying your people were, they love you for who you are and not for what you do or where you are. At home, you are allowed to be vulnerable and unequip that armour you carry in the outside world. Each one of us is struggling with a battle of their own till their last breath. The best part is that you become wiser as you age and experience life and thus realise where to channel that energy. These battles will be there because as you grow, as you pursue your dreams in that foreign land of yours, your family members are simultaneously growing and experiencing life back home. And no technology can bridge the gap between you and your home as much as the act of returning home does.
Isn’t the home a magnificent, beautiful mess? Hasn’t each visit shifted your core a little, added a little life for you? So cherish your visits, and learn to cut your family some slack because it’s not going to be perfect. There will be times when you will need to fake it, fight to keep it, or run away from it all. No matter how twisted and rocky that road is, however, it will eventually lead you home.