Skip to content

Dublin Diary (Seattle Edition) – What is home, anyway?

We arrived back in Dublin more than four weeks ago.  I still don’t feel quite settled.  Since December 12th, I have slept in 8 different beds.  Constantly moving like that is surprisingly stressful, and mentally tiring.  And it has robbed me of the “coming home” sense that I felt entitled to after nearly three years away.

Moving to a new place is big, and strange and scary.  You don’t know anyone, and mundane things are alien – did you know that America uses a very different font on its street signs? – and all of this serves to underline the fact that you  are somewhere else.  After a few weeks, you know your own neighbourhood well enough that you have a favourite place for coffee, and you have met some people who may become friends.  Over months and eventually years, you carve out a space that is yours, and you become comfortable.

Moving to somewhere you have lived before is a different experience – you are already familiar with the place, with the street-signs and with the people.  But small changes stick out a lot, and are jarring – that petrol station used to have different branding, and that pub that I never went into has closed down!  After a long enough time, a place that once was as close as your skin can feel alien and grating.

It doesn’t help that I’m back in Seattle after less than a month away.  This is a great opportunity to see friends that I was worried about leaving behind, and it makes a business trip feel significantly less onerous.  But it’s a very strange feeling – this is the first time I’ve taken a taxi from the airport alone in years – and I have a better idea of where I want to eat than I do in Dublin.

All this is to say that travel is an odd experience, and moving homes even more so.  I don’t quite know where I feel at home just yet, because I haven’t had a chance to settle.  I don’t really have a solid conclusion for this post, which I recognise is unsatisfying.  But then, I have fouind this period of living as a peripatetic is also pretty unsatisfying too, so maybe that works.

Theme song for the week: <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/WXmuMLDNQtc” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Howard Blackwell | 2017-01-16 at 18:44 | Permalink

    Niall you have described the feelings of moving away, and moving back and the emotions those two things bring very well in your few words. It’s easy to end up not feeling like anywhere is home, and wondering how you will ever settle back into a satisfactory existence. Your travel bug may have been irrevocably switched on and you find yourself not settled anywhere. What you describe has been very much my experience since leaving Wales decades ago. Where is home? What constitutes home? I now refer to many places as home – Wales, London, and Auckland. In Welsh we have a word – Hiraeth – it refers to a longing for a past that you miss, but a nostalgic past that might be as much in your view of what you think the past was like rather than the reality of that past. A bit like the pub you never went into, how could someone close down that pub, which was part of your familiar landscape notwithstanding you never went in! Enjoy your trip.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *