AT HOME

This quote from an exhibition on rural Bulgarian homes in the Ethnicological Museum in Sofia evokes a paradoxical travel-related theme. Paradoxical, because I question whether leaving home means leaving the chance at a home. True, leaving is always leaving something, someone, some place behind. Some version of a home, or a belonging. At the same time, after having left new homes are created everyday. Traveling is marked by these opposing forces – the attraction of the unknown -the new- versus the pull of what is left behind -the old.

There are, of course, varying degrees of home building. At one end of the spectrum, there are those that build their home with their own hands, filling it with a family and staying there to pass their life in comfort and safety, rooted in a place they come to know intimately and where they are known by others, thus constructing not just a physical but also a ‘psychological’ home (a home being a place and feeling). This can be seen as the sedentary’s ideal.

On the other end there are those traveling their entire life, going where chance and fancy lead. And while they are not appeasing the house’s spirits, they certainly feel a connection to those gods and spirits that occupy themselves with the traveler. Yet even these people build homes – albeit small and temporary ones – wherever they go. We human beings are given the skill of adaptation to new environments (likely a remnant from our nomad days), and this allows us to get used quickly to a new place to eat, sleep and rest. A few days in one (nice enough) place and the homey feeling is starting to sink in….

Then there are those in between, like us. Not building a classic home, not at home for a long period and yet at home with movement, change, the attraction to leaving apparently so far slightly larger than the attraction of staying. Not free from nostalgia for past homes, nor bound to them.

(V)

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