This next show, Saturday 22nd June, feels like a bit of a struggle. One reason is that I’m away for valuable preparation time and that’s a bit worrying. The next is because it deals with a fairly fraught subject for me: the concept of home.
So when I don’t know something and it doesn’t seem like the dictionary definition covers it, I ask. And ask. And ask. Strangers, friends, strangers who became friends as a result. One question.
What does home mean to you?
It turned out to be a much bigger question. Like a key that unlocked something really interesting. Complete strangers shared details of their lives and priorities in ways I never expected. It was almost overwhelming.
So I didn’t get to write down every single answer verbatim, but here are a few.
Where my love is
It’s where the heart is
Home means not feeling displaced anymore, means making long term plans
It’s the feeling of being accepted, safe and loved with a person(s) or in a place
A sense of belonging.
Where you feel the most yourself, the most free to be you and place you want to go back to right away
Where I get to be alone and therefore, at peace
When i am in destiny
Home is where I cook
You can shut the door behind you and feel secure.
Where you can be yourself without thinking about it
Home is somewhere when I reach it, I release the world around me. I feel safe. I feel like I will be accepted. I feel like it is a place where I can rest.
Where you plant roots. As long as you’re happy and have something to do, something you can make progress towards
Family, warmth, somewhere I can take a dump
I asked people in Toronto, Minneapolis, St. Paul, online and in person. I also realised that there were interactions where I didn’t want to know. Sometimes it seemed it wasn’t the right time, or maybe it was my failing.
Somebody who had two homes, one in Minnesota with most of their family and their father remaining in Mexico, calling them back. Somebody who had lived in different places in the US. Somebody who had family with them, somebody who did not. Somebody who had never moved away from where they were, or moved a city. Somebody who was planning to move and set up a new home.
I ask these questions because I wonder: can you have more than one home? What qualifies as acceptance? Can you feel you belong in multiple places? If you don’t feel peace with other people, can that change? Does it have to be tied to a physical location? Is home where you can determine your own actions? Is it proximity to things you have chosen, where you controlled that aspect of your existence?
I began travelling for music at age 14. I went to Switzerland with a youth orchestra, and then continued going on those trips over the years, until I ended up living in Boston for three months. Then toured around Europe in a van with a band for another three months, four years later, between different trips. Then, five years ago, I moved away for what I thought were two years, for a working holiday visa. I don’t really know fully why I went for a permanent resident card, at the time, and I certainly didn’t take it as it was called. The idea of permanence seemed arrogant to me. As if anything I do or anybody else is anything but long-term, at best.
Water wears away stone.
Why did I do this examination? Why did it turn out to be something bigger than research and curiosity?
Cancers are big on home. The tree that blooms in this time is the Oak. Daír (pronounced deer, put your tongue behind your teeth for the d). Oaks tower in the forest, a symbol of nobility and endurance. Wearing oak leaves was a sign of special status among Celts, ancient Greeks and Romans. Oaks are associated with life, strength, wisdom, nobility, family, loyalty, power, longevity, heritage, honour. Wearing oak leaves was a sign of special status among the Celts (as well as ancient Greeks and Romans).
Oaks are stabilisers. Oaks made up the sacred grove of Athena, in Dodona, which made the Argo, bringing Jason to finding the Golden Fleece. They represented loyalty, faith, a promise. The Argo fell on Jason once he became an oath-breaker, after the Argonauts were gone. A warning to be true. Those born under the leaves of the Oak are gifted with strength. They are chanpions and protectors. Oaks have a deep respect for history and ancestry, and need structure. Sometimes they will go to great lengths to gain the feeling of control in their lives. Healthy Oak signs live long, full, happy lives and enjoy large family settings and are likely to be involved with large social/community networks.
That said, Oaks attract lighting, too. Associated with the Dagda. (Worth a read.) The animal associated with Oaks is the Wren. King of the birds, who sings of devotion, creativity and loyalty. Wrens are all about E M O T I O N S. Similar to Cancerians, both ruled by water and the moon. A Wren became king of the birds by hiding in the eagle’s feathers, during a competition to see who could fly the highest. Because the wren beat the Eagle by trickery (Christian mythology), the title remains but a Wren remains hidden from the Eagle’s sight. Wrens were also queens, Tehi Tegi, or winter kings, symbols from the past year. Wrens are often small and inconspicuous until they open their beaks. They often build dome-shaped nests, often closer to the ground, although some nest in forest canopy.
Cancerians are big on home and stability, same as Oaks, same as Wrens. I never examined it before. I never examined how I felt about home. Or what that meant to me, because with the travel, I feel like I have more than one home. But over and over I did feel one thing.
Home, for me, is always when I fly back to Ireland, after I have got to see my family, and the first time I walk out to the sea outside my house. I take a deep breath of salt-laden air and I look out to a sea I looked at every day for over twenty years, that is never the same colour or mood, and I feel my shoulders drop, my jaw release. I am there. I am home.