‘Welcome home’

I have searched and I have tried to find a place where I can be
I love my homeland dearly but never carved a place in society.

Woods of Ypres – Travelling Alone

Via the social media and in real-life people welcomed me back ‘home’. The quotation marks are mine. Why I use them, is the subject of this blog post. I always used them when I decided to go back again and wrote about that. But I prefer the term ‘back’ better. Because what is ‘home’? Is that where you have been born and is therefore that place destined to be your home for the rest of your life? I don’t agree, I don’t see it as a static definition, it’s very dynamic (as life itself should be).

In fact, I’m I still officially homeless, so than it’s quite hard to ride home, isn’t it? When you’re planning to leave The Netherlands for more than eight months, and you don’t have any income, you’re obliged to unregister as a citizen. Well, the first plan was that I would be gone for a year and a half to two years (apart from the initial plan of 3-4 years), so I unsubscribed. Fortunately I have an awesome family, if I couldn’t stay with my girlfriend in Groningen, I could have crashed at my parents place and otherwise I could definitely have stayed with my sister or brother. If they would be fed up with my, there would still be the option of putting up my tent in their garden.
I’ve studied in Groningen, but never lived in that city before. But I do feel right at home here. Isn’t that enough to bé at home? Last weekend I payed a visit to my parents, they still live in the same house as where I grew up. Again I got response about being home again. Would I got the same response when I would’ve cycled back to Denmark, where I lived a year before going on this adventure? I felt more at home there than I ever felt in the province of Fryslân. I would’ve stayed there if I didn’t had the (crazy) idea in mind to cycle around the world. If I haven’t met that nice girl in Groningen, I would have gone back to Denmark immediately after returning from my trip. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it turned out like this and that I’m not back in Denmark. Quite the opposite, I love how things turned out (and I love not to plan my life for the next hundred years, but to go as the river flows).

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The view from the balcony in Groningen

Since I am really fond of the Scandinavia countries as Sweden and Finland, where I was during my trip, I could quite easily imagine to live there one day, since I felt right at home there as well. After the Baltic States I arrived in Poland. People who are regularly reading my blog posts know that I am lyrical about Poland. Especially due to the kindness and warmth of the Warmshower-family in Bialystok. Since I felt right at home there, I decided to stay a night and day longer with them.
I slept everywhere (I could) in my tent along the way. Everywhere I put my head on my pillow in my cozy tent I was where I should be. I brought my own little movable house everywhere so I could be (at) home in any place I desired – at least if there was a spot to set up my tent. ‘Where I lay my head is home’, as James Hetfield of Metallica sings in the song Wherever I may roam. Doesn’t it make your world very small and narrow to call only the place where you come from your home?
That place where you come from – your Heimat – with its language, culture, values and norms is something you carry with you whereever you go. Above that, it can also be partly taken over by another Heimat. I’ve only spent a year in Denmark. But I find myself still cursing in Danish every now and then. I have the feeling I speak that language better than German, although I have an average knowledge of German, since I first learned it for more than fifteen years ago. When I try to speak German now, Danish comes creeping in like it’s feeling ignored like a spoiled child, so I mix Danish words with my German unwanted. But above all I felt a strange sensation of actually coming home – now on purpose without quotation marks – when I returned during my trip a few months ago to the vicinity of Hovedgård (between Horsens and Århus), where I stayed that year. Can one be Heimatlos or can one simply have more than one Heimat?

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The way I lived in Denmark when I worked on an organic farm (also as a nomad)

Like I said before, I really feel at home in Groningen. When I crossed the border I felt very negative again about The Netherlands, but when I came closer to Groningen, that sentiment blowed away by the strong headwind I had last Thursday. When I lived that half year in Ljouwert after leaving Denmark and before going on the trip, I felt right at home there as well. So I have no problems of registering me again and go searching for accommodation. I just lay my head down over there and I will be right at ‘home’.

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I lived in an old classroom in Ljouwert last year (photograph was taken when I needed to get rid of everything before my journey)

 

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6 thoughts on “‘Welcome home’

  1. “Home is where the hart is.” As the saying goes. So, yes, I feel you can be ‘at home’ in many places.

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  2. ‘Home’ is definitely a complicated thing. There can be no one definition for it and definitely not just one place that is ‘home’ for your entire life. I’ve struggled with the concept for a long time, and still do really. I’m not entirely sure what defines a ‘home’ but I think this is something you can feel. I’ve always known when I was ‘home’ even if I couldn’t quite say why.

    When I came back from my own cycle trip, people welcomed me back ‘home’ too. But I don’t think they and me thought about the same thing in the word. They probably just welcomed me back to my flat and (more) regular life, but to me it felt more like coming back to a country I love, to my partner, and to our plans for the future. So maybe home is a kind of love?

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  3. Pingback: The adventure is over? | Geart Tigchelaar

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