Where is home? I don’t know, it has changed so many times over the years. Sometimes it changes over the space of a day. You know, home is here, or home is there. Home is everywhere! But where is home really? I spent many years wondering this, yearning for somewhere else, nostalgic, homesickness just another part of my everyday emotional pool. I put my hands in, try to wash it away put there she is, wrapped around the reflection of the New York skyline or the Vercors mountain range. I close my eyes and there it is, my old boulangerie, the smell of freshly baked baguette right there in my nose. Or sometimes it is the bar on Orchard Street, the sounds in the walls when you walk open the doors, cool air, dried glass rings, the comforting smell of old beer that never goes away. Other times it is the churchyard in England, moss-covered tombstones, and names that have long since been forgotten by most. And then I imagine myself walking barefoot down the hill to the little beach on the Mediterranean, a mile or so from Nahariya, a few more from Akko. Home was leaving one home and landing in another, even when I had never been there before. Home was a suitcase in one hand and a cigarette in another, $200 in a bank account and a new life wherever I laid my head. Home is and will always be where I feel safe, happy, and with those I love.
The smell of rain on the warm pavement in the middle of the summer, a couple of swallows flying for cover into the eaves above my bedroom window, and the sound of the breeze rustling through branches and leaves, that is home. England in the summertime is home. Right there in the village where there is one main road and a few smaller ones, and two churches, the bells ringing on Sundays in time for the morning service. England is also the little room at the top of the building, with the grand staircase leading down to the rest of the apartment, cooking smells coming from the kitchen, the fire crackling in the living room. Home is the warm, thick quilt on Nana’s bed, watching television in the evening because I was allowed to stay up later than my sister. England is also living in London on next to nothing, writing poetry on my lunch break in Putney by the river; dreaming of Israel and California while wandering through the streets of Streatham. England is my first home, the home where I was born, and where I have returned to many a time. England is the comfort, the warmth, but also the grey and the dark. England is living as a working class family under Thatcher in the 80’s, but England is also rolling hills of green beauty and old, old pubs with real ale.
The unseasonably warm breeze cutting through the November air, leaves falling red, yellow, brown to the ground, but still t-shirt weather when yesterday we were in winter coats. Home is the Mistral whistling through the mountains into the valley, a city where the blue sky is tainted by brown pollution, nestled down between different mountain ranges. Vercors, Chartreuse, Belledonne: that is where I am from. France is nights spent sitting on the statue of Berlioz singing songs with a bottle of rose in my hands, hand in hand with my best friend, running through the cobbled streets causing havoc. Home is ivresse, home is warm bread and brie, ravioles baked in the oven, and countless espressos sitting outside en terrasse, no matter how hot or cold it is. Home is the relentless snow in the summer, and the snowcapped mountains in the winter. Home is opening your window shutters every morning to be greeted by the foot of a mountain, looming up into the sky, faces in the rocks, trees that turn with the seasons, somewhat oppressing, mostly a safety blanket. Never a real sunset on the horizon, sometimes I missed that, but those beautifully dramatic thunderstorms made up for it twice over. Dancing in the rain, happy faces, a kind of freedom from everything. Home is teenage years and metal and grunge and goth and friendships that last forever. Home is the most beautiful language in the world.
The smell of 5am in the spring, early morning jogger passing late night last caller, city that never sleeps: that is home. New York City, the place where so many dreams go to die, where so many dreams go to shine, is my home. A decade of decadence, a decade of wonder, of ups and downs and squiggly all arounds: a home that I never expected, but the home that I always craved. So many boots worn into the ground, uptown, downtown, Brooklyn, Queens, bridges and tunnels and subways and ferries. I can still find my way there blindfolded, the city sounds music to my ears. City sounds at night put me to sleep now, silence keeps me awake, ears craving the soothing sounds of sirens and cars, loud beats and voices travelling below my window. Home is the smell of laundry, bakery, trash, and stale beer all on the same block. Home is where love waxed and waned, and finally fell straight. Home is where my daughters were born, where the eldest took her first steps, and where life took a different turn. New York City: city where I lost and found myself over and over again, falling, crawling, standing up and walking tall. Home that haunts my dreams and my daydreams. Homesickness is the strongest with this one.
And now, home is here in this little city, capital of such a big state. Boiling hot in the summer, damp in the winter, wedged between desert and mountain, I suppose it is home. Home because we have a home, and home because my family is here. I still wander the streets like a stranger, one foot on, one foot off; looking for places we can make our own. We live in the bustle, but it is quiet, and we walk everywhere, every day. Past the Capitol where laws are passed and protests are held, through the gardens where each tree proudly displays a name and a history, up, up towards the real bustle, figuring out where we belong. I have known Sacramento on and off for 17 years and she appears to be struggling. Growing, but not fast enough, streets a mess of new and tumbledown, not enough room for the residents, K Street an image of the US that no one wants the world to see. Old Sacramento has my heart; the rumble of the wooden sidewalks as the stroller rolls over the slats, Evangeline’s beckoning us inside, memories of centuries lingering in the alleyways. I learn to love you, new home, the place where my son was born, but we will not be staying, our plans have many more horizons ahead of them.
Laced in between those homes are other homes, temporary stays that became more permanent, and forever etched into my mind. Barefoot walks to the edge of the moshav, running around the kibbutz at night… The little house in the suburbs, the place where I learnt what prejudice really meant, being spat on because I wasn’t blonde and didn’t speak Dutch. Biking to school, rain or shine, learning a new language in the space of weeks, months, little brains like sponges, watching, absorbing, listening. I still smell the Prasad in India, the overpowering smell of flowers on the tomb in the early morning, a perfect quiet, no one to bother me while I wrote and sketched. Sterilized water in containers outside of the rooms, perfectly crafted vegetarian meals, and people from all walks of life, a moment in time, ships passing through the night. That balcony in Barcelona, summer moon shining through my cigarette smoke as I listened to Cat Stevens and dreamed about coming back home, because those streets reminded me of home, of France home. My life is formed by a pattern of homes, all tracing backwards and forwards, down hills, over mountains, with many, many flights between them.
One day we will make our home somewhere else again. Another country, maybe one I have never resided in before, maybe one that I already call home. The wind has a tendency to turn and cast me off into all types of directions, heart first, the rest following right behind. If there is one thing I have learnt it is to never wait for something to happen, instead one should grab ahold of it and not let go.