Backpackers are predictable things. I can pretty much guarantee that when you meet new travellers you will be asked three questions:
What’s your name?
Where are you from?
Where are you going next?
The first is pretty simple, let’s face it if you can’t answer this you either need to see a doctor or step away from that bottle of paint remover tasting local alcohol ASAP.
The third is also pretty easy to answer, as most backpackers will at least have an idea of their itinerary (you know, the one you’ve spent months planning and memorising your planned route).
But the second is a bit of a hum dinger. Obviously your accent gives the game away a little but really truly where do you call home?! It’s these deep existential questions that only ever jump into your head, usually when you’re trying to sleep but think about it where ARE you from?!
I was born in Warwickshire, spent my teenage years in Liverpool then left to go to University in Manchester and lived there for ten years before travelling. Since then I have ‘settled’ in France for the past two years and is now where I have a home but I wouldn’t call it home.
When I meet people I usually say I’m from Manchester. That place has such a special place in my heart, it is the city where I grew from a geeky impressionable 18 year old to a still geeky less impressionable woman. I’ve never met ANYONE who hasn’t heard of Manchester United but not many (even English people) have heard of the small town where I was born. However, Manchester isn’t my home now and I wasn’t born there but it helps move the conversation on rather than pulling out a world map pointing at this tiny speck in the Midlands as they nod vaguely wishing they’d never asked.
France isn’t my home either, I think it would take many years and a massive improvement in my language skills before I felt like I truly fit in here. Not that I don’t love it here but it is easy to feel like an outsider when you don’t understand everything.
If your home is where your family are then I am spread all over the UK (a logistical nightmare trying to see everyone during the short time I come back for a holiday). Home is maybe not a place at all, maybe you don’t need a postcode to answer this question.
Home is where you feel happiest, where you feel like you, where you have purpose and a sense of belonging, no matter how small. For many travellers their large heavy backpack literally becomes their home, their bag stuffed with things that hold a sense of familiarity in a foreign place. But you can’t send letters to a backpack.
Sadly, I don’t have the answer. What do you think?! Where would YOU call home?