If you were to ask me where I most feel at home, two years ago, I’d have wasted no time in spitting out my reply – Goa. Seven years ago, my instantaneous response would have been Bangalore. I vehemently stood by these choices at the time, polarised extremes, one or the other. I had to choose. After all, there is a foreverness the word home carries in its all-encompassing grasp. An inescapable definiteness, bound within the walls that shrink and close in as the years roll on.
But time does that thing it does, smoothing out the bumps and straightening out the curves, lighting up the dark and opening up multiple avenues at once. When the rough edges turn soft with use, with experience and comfort, diametric opposites too begin to blend and the vast grey that lies in between the two begins to look inviting. More recently, I told myself I cannot choose. That I do not have to choose. Because it is impossible to choose when the heart is in both places at once.
Home is not one state in a binary. It is not in or out. Here or there. Come or go.
Many times it is both. And like water flowing deftly between the two, taking the best of each and melding it with the other, you slip and swim. You turn soft over things you once abhorred, grow fond of things you didn’t imagine you ever could. You long for that which you once took for granted, even as you revel in new discoveries that you make every single day. You begin to associate comfort and a sense of home, with people, slices of time, experiences, smells, memories, and not so much only the spaces you inhabit.
And when you’ve lived away from home long enough, the city you once called home has mutated beyond recognition, yet it houses all your best people, and when you love your current home in a heart-crushing way that can only be tested by your longing for what once was your old home (from a time too long gone) you realise that your idea of home has been altered so many times over. You no longer know which is which, and you cannot always separate the two.
Eventually, you’ll find that you can be at home, anywhere. Even in a third place altogether, completely unlike the two homes in consideration. Like I did last week, smack in the middle of coffee and rubber estates, surrounded by jungle noises and an insurmountable peace that rolled in and out, silently, like the clouds that floated along.
Being at home was suddenly about being peacefully comfortable in each other’s company. So far away from home, it was about reading an entire book in a day. Effortless conversation, four bodies smashed on a double bed, snores, cackling breathless laughter, failed selfies, and the occasional hug or belly rub.
And then the moment passes, and you find yourself in the twilight zone between two homes. The one you have been in, and the one you’re going to. That strange space where you’re torn up about leaving home once again, but eagerly anticipating going back home again.
How strangely comforting it is — to have two homes, to live and love them equally and to know you will probably never outgrow one to fully embrace the other. How wonderful it is to not have to choose. To know you can have both, because they will both always have you. Suddenly home is a wondrous, shapeshifting thing. Like water. Flowing, always. Stopping to take shape momentarily. wherever it seems fit, wherever it feels right. But always flowing, never settling. After all, there is a foreverness to flowing water too. That uncontainable flow that refuses to be bound.