19 Aug 2010

Home Truths About What We Call a Home (Part 2)

Exporting home out of the home: I remember one of Jo Malone's beautiful product catalogues from a decade ago that provided some insight into the skincare specialist's definition of 'feeling at home'. It said something like: 'When I travel, I like to surround myself with things that I enjoy at home, like a (Jo Malone) fragranced candle.'

Basically this means that you can recreate the home away from home, during a hotel stay, for instance, with some key-pieces that are meaningful to you and your well-being, and that will help you to unwind while reminding you of home. For some it might be a candle, for others it might be an endearing alarm clock, a room spray, a loved photograph or a favourite book...

As a child at night I would never part from a piece of eiderdown from my baby days, that gradually turned ragged but that I would take anywhere on my sleep-overs. It was reassuring, protecting, terribly soft, a reminder of home and it magically sent me to sleep as a result (like some tactile lullaby!). Many an adult has a similar story involving a teddy bear, a doll or, like I, a humble piece of textile!

Your house, not (necessarily) my home: Living at someone's house means that freedom of choice and expression of personality are toned down, even suppressed. Communal living implies the fact that you have to abide by a set of rules. Even in the most laid-back commune, you will still have the odd rule to stick by.

Back at my parents, meal times are organised around their lives, which is completely acceptable of course but which may not always be suitable to me. Their life is organised into a well-rehearsed routine compared to mine back in England, and I've had to adapt my way of living in adequation to theirs, not necessarily to my liking but what can you do?

Back in England, I have no contact with those old annoying family friends, whereas here avoiding them is unavoidable at times... Compromises mean that you, the visitor/ guest (the intruder) lose your way a bit. You end up living a lie by pretending you (dis)like such-and-such singer/ politician/ design school/ fashion trend, in order to avoid family discord.

If 'home is where the heart is' this surely excludes places where you cannot be yourself, where things are done half-heartedly (cooking for the family is a good example in my case) in fear of the food critics that I am cooking for, where my original aim to show appreciation for their hospitality gets abnegated for a question of too little salt or too many raisins...But no matter what, home will always remain:

A pretty four-letter word: Full of promise, expectation and anticipation ('I want to go home!', 'I want to be home for Christmas...'), immortalised by stars of the silver screen (Think E.T.!) and other popular modern icons. Home is simply that final destination: a place of solace, a safety valve, an anchor point that helps you to charge up your batteries before facing the world again!

So there it is, the truth has hit home! Home is simply a beautiful place to be.

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