Nomadic heartbreak

Taylor Rocca, Copy/Web Editor Ω

This week we ran a fantastic feature penned by Karla Karcioglu. After giving it a good, solid read (also known as doing my job) I was oddly inspired to write my column, somewhat in relation to the discussion about home and how it can be defined.

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary lists five definitions for the word ‘home’ in relation to the context we are using it in:

  1. The place where one lives; the fixed residence of a family or household;
  2. A house or dwelling place;
  3. The residence of a person’s parents;
  4. A building etc. providing a locale for a company’s activities; and
  5. The members of a family collectively; one’s family background.

While it definitely does not compare to the serious issue examined by Karla, a spiritual sense of homelessness confuses and often frustrates me.

Student life can often leave individuals nomadic. Some leave their hometown in search of an education. Others leave their first, second or even third post-secondary institution in search of a different education. In between semesters, students venture across the country or back to their respective hometowns in search of employment — a means to pay the high tuition fees and living expenses — in hopes of avoiding the shackles of student debt. Some people traverse foreign continents, seeking out culture and life experience through academic exchange programs. At the end of this all, students are constantly left looking for a new “house or dwelling.”

Depending on how often you get sucked into this cycle or willingly volunteer yourself for the adventures it can present, you might be left searching for the same answer I am currently looking for.

Over the semester break, I spent five weeks in Calgary and one in Toronto. When out on the town, countless times I was asked the question, “Where are you from? Where is home for you?”

Every time I had to pause and think, struggling to come up with an answer I felt to be appropriate.

Now, I am fortunate in countless ways when it comes to the Oxford Canadian definition of ‘home.’ I have a place to live; a fixed residence or dwelling place. When I visit my hometown of Calgary I am always welcomed in my parents’ residence and I have an extended family that is warm, friendly and caring. Heck, I even have a building to go to where my employer (or company) conducts its activities. If you’re curious, come by House 4 on campus, I can give you a tour.

I am thankful everyday for what I have.

So why, as a person so fortunate and rich in the definition of ‘home,’ was I struggling to answer?

“Where is home?”

I grew up in Calgary. After 18 years, I packed my bags in search of an education in Edmonton. At that point, I still considered Calgary home.

Five years later, I relocated myself to Kamloops, looking to further my education once again. Calgary had somehow become less home for me, but Edmonton was also in the past. Relationships had brought me to consider Vancouver like a second home, but that was gone too. A pit-stop in Toronto for four months added to the confusion.

Knowing Kamloops is likely just one more stop along the way, with Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto all being in the past, I find myself at a loss for an answer to the question, “Where are you from?”

I used to believe in the old cliche, “home is where the heart is.”

But when one has bounced around from place to place, meeting new people along the way but never truly setting down roots anywhere along that road, where does their heart go? Where is their heart’s home?

According to Collins English Dictionary, ‘spiritual home’ is defined as, “the place where you feel you belong.”

I like to believe that one day I will find a place to call home again. Until then, I will keep pausing when someone asks, “Where is home for you?”