by Lulua Al-Osaimi
Have you ever stopped to reflect on what home means to you? What does home feel, smell, taste or look like? What does it mean when you miss home?
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines the word home as a noun: “The place (such as a house or apartment) where a person lives: a family living together in one building, house, etc. A place where something normally or naturally lives or is located.”
But is home really just a location, or factors far beyond a physical structure? Or rather is home a true emotional bond between people, places, things or even ideas? For the last ten years I have explored the many possibilities of the definition of home, and this is still an on-going process. If you have ever lived outside of the home or city you were raised in, lived abroad, had family in separate locations or homes, or even currently have trouble defining what home means to you… maybe you will feel what I am talking about.
I remember since a very young age, that my mother undoubtedly was such a large piece of how I defined home. Everything about her, down to the scent of her facial moisturizer, felt like home to me. So when I first left Minnesota to start college in Chicago, I knew I would be creating another home and was very happy and eager to do so. I knew that in order for me to feel like I could exhale at the end of the day, my apartment had to invite that sense of relief, so I invested heavily (not talking financially) into my apartment and what was in it, including the energy in that space.
I yearn for places I have never been physically. Can that be possible, for a place that you have not yet explored, already feels like home? Which leads me to believe that home is far more than location or a building, but a mental, emotional, and spiritual state of mind and heart. What happens when we are homesick? What is it that we actually painfully miss? Are there ways to feel connected and less homesick without actually going to a specific location? The feeling of home is different for each person, so the feeling of being homesick will also be as unique. For some it is food, places of worship (whether that is a physical space or mental space), scents, textures, activities, and even people. Also as an artist, I am thankful that no matter where I am in the world, I can create and feel at home. Creating art is very much a mental and emotional state of home for me and I believe this is true for many people who express themselves through the various mediums of art.
Although I have consciously planted seeds in many places, I don’t think any of those gardens are truly where I will ground my home just yet. Through these reflective explorations, I have also found that a person can very much so, feel like home. Could that mean that possibly, no matter where you are in the world, that being with someone can very much feel as secure, loving, and grounding as a home can be?
In whatever way you describe home, it’s important to reflect on what makes a happy home for you personally. Unfortunately for many people in the world, they have had to move from a location they feel most comfortable because of various circumstances or their homes and personal possessions have been demolished. Or for others, they may not feel at home in the place they were raised and currently live in and don’t have the luxury to venture out to live somewhere else because of whatever circumstance. That is one of the reasons why I believe it is important that we are able to create, build, rebuild, remodel, rearrange, and also push to evolve the many ways we define our home. Having this awareness and personal understanding allows us to not only be more aware of ourselves and our surroundings, but ourselves within those surroundings, and also how to sustain the pleasant aspects of our homes. If we start taking ownership of this, we will better nourish those spaces whether physically or mentally, and feel more responsibility in keeping those spaces tidy, vibrant, thriving and well kept.
If my nostalgic feeling of home could be described, it would be…
My mother’s apartment: Mom opening the curtains in the morning, windows open, fresh crisp Minnesota breeze, birds chirping outside, coffee machine dripping, afternoon naps on a fresh smelling carpet, sound of laundry in the dryer, Mom cleaning, chocolate chip cookies baking, Oprah on the TV at 4pm, bare feet, sitting on my mother’s lap while gazing at her freckles, the scent of her face moisturizer, washing dishes with hot water, Stevie Wonder playing from the kitchen, the words “I love you” said 100+ times a day, my mother’s whistle when it was time to come inside for dinner, the biggest fluffy clouds you have ever seen laying against the bluest blanket sky, the scent of freshly mowed grass, and love… so much love.
And although it saddens me that I cannot come back to this particular home physically, or be with my mother physically, I carry this beautiful and nostalgic feeling of home everywhere I go, along with my mother and the many gardens I have planted along the way. #staywoke