I step out onto the balcony of my apartment that stands guard over the Spanish tile roofed houses of Medellin. My socks soak up the moisture left behind from an afternoon thundershower as my lungs inhale the fresh air and my heart soaks in the sunset’s precious atmosphere. My eyes stretch over the city I will be calling home for the next little while and my mind can’t help but wander to the concept of home itself.
In my life, the term home has often been associated with the feeling of having itchy feet stuck in a cement as I waited for my next escape into the world. Home has meant standing still, not only physically but psychologically. I know what home is supposed to mean. Home is supposed to represent being close to friends and family. Home is supposed to be a place of comfort, pride and security.
I use the term “back home” when I talk about Canada, but the honest truth is that I never really felt at home there. Not that I did feel comfortable, prideful, or secure, but because I always felt that my true path was to lead me somewhere else. My family and best friends all live in Canada, and for that it will always draw me, but it isn’t my home, I know that now, just as I knew it then.
When I was living in Arequipa, Peru the people would sing of songs of home. When they travel they would sing these songs yearning for their love: their hometown. But for me, home has always felt a little bit like a prison. At home I feel constrained, not necessarily geographically, but constrained in my growth as a person. That being said, finding a home is something I have always aspired to do.
I’d be lying if there haven’t been many times of the past two years of travel that I haven’t dreamt of having a more normal life. I’d only be kidding myself if I said that there weren’t days I woke up wanting a girlfriend, to see my friends regularly, and even things so basic as a gym to go to every day and a local pub to have a drink at after work. In fact, that’s the reason I chose Medellin to slow down in for a little while. I have friends here, I can explore the idea of a more normal stationary life.
I have been in Medellin, Colombia now for nearly a month and I do feel at peace in the city. You’d be hard pressed to find a people in the world more outgoing, friendly and helpful than those in Medellin. The city, to me, feels the way that home should feel: comfortable and safe. But still something tugs at my heels. I used to feel guilty for traveling so much, and now I feel guilty for having the opportunity to travel and not taking full advantage. I felt, again, like I am at a standpoint.
But as I awoke this morning I stepped over my still unpacked suitcase and wandered out of my room to the balcony. I wrested my elbows down on the metal railing and looked out over the city. I felt a sense of calm and peace at where I was doing.
“Why do I feel the need to define the term home?” I thought to myself, annoyed at the the fact that something so simple has gotten into my head and shaken my confidence.
It was, however, in that moment looking over the lush green hills and orange brick buildings of Medellin that I did define home, or at least what home means to me. Home is the comfort of knowing exactly where you need to be. Home doesn’t have to be a place on a map, a house with a garden, or anything concrete at all. Home is a guiding light that leads you to places you truly desire to be.
I don’t know if Medellin will someday become home. I don’t know if any one place will ever become home. What I do know is that as long as I continue to follow my guiding light, strive to become the person I want to be, and never compromise my desires I will always be home.