As I depart Mali to travel 'home', I even begin to wonder the true meaning of the word. The Oxford Dictionary would say: 'noun, the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.'
'Permanently', a word that could suit most people at most times in their lives.
I was once again forced to consider the concept of home having read a poignant chapter in a book named 'Off The Map':
'Letters home. Was that where I was writing back to? When I left Olympia I thought I was taking home with me. Like every other time I moved away, I was careful not to leave behind anything I'd need in the future. Just in case. I thought I could condense home to a few cubic feet I stowed on the space of my back, could build a home from outer motion and inner fire. I know it's not keys to a nearby storage unit that make a place home and it's only the bits of my heart left on loan that are worth going back for. But is home the place you come back to when you're full, or is it where you go to be filled up again?
For the moment, "home" sounded like the dilapidated house where Kika was waiting for me. True, in most homes, you don't have to hang heavy blankets over the windows to hide the light, or speak constantly in low whispers, or peer cautiously down the street before coming or going. But for all it's strangeness, it was home for the same reason as the places I sent my letters. No matter how I came back, full of hope or desperate to be filled, someone I loved was waiting there, holding space for me.'
Travelling and resting my head in many different places, I've learn to give the word 'home' a different meaning. for me it's a place of acceptance and welcoming, but things change, it needs not to be permanent, some nights a lonely, noisy roadside verge may be the most welcoming mattress or even a cold stone floor in a mine, maybe the sofa of your parents house waking to their cat napping on your face feels like home for but a single night.
When tired, all the above places may be welcoming and a well earned place of rest, but where's the acceptance? What makes a place truely feel like home is the people there at that time, those who share the roadside verge, those who allow me to sleep on their sofa, those who go on adventures with me and those who are there to greet me upon my return. To all these people, thank you for making me feel at home!
When I left my region, the last place it would be considered I had a permanent residence, (although always aware I could be removed at any time) I left it technically homeless, leaving to travel a while with no permanent company, no permanent place to rest my head.
ON THE ROAD