INA WO(A)NDERS: about coming home
"Are you coming home for Christmas?" Before being a full-time traveler, this question did not exist in my world. Christmas and coming home were two jigsaw pieces firmly glued together, just like New Year's Eve and raclette. But when travelling, adhesives can dissolve and the jigsaw pieces can get mixed up.
No wonder: in Spain, where I am writing this column, New Year's Eve is all about grapes instead of little pans with melted raclette cheese. And since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, coming home for Christmas is no longer a matter of course. And yet, coming home always has something enlightening about it - no matter at what time of the year. It's a kind of cognitive process that takes place on three levels.
Level one: celebrate what's there
The huge bed with the cuddly bed linen, which will only be mine for the next few nights. The piano that always forgives me for remembering only a handful of songs to bring it to life. The fireplace, the cat, and the rocking chair: the perfect trio of warmth, purring, bliss. The ugly fleece trousers, which I would never wear anywhere else - except at home, surrounded by my family. Our enchanting garden, the fields, meadows and forests and the little creek where cheerful childhood memories float past me. On level one, my home makes me dreamy, gentle and incredibly grateful.
Level two: rethink what's there
Every time I enter my room on the ground floor of my parents' house, my eye catches: stuff. Stuff I did not need nor miss for many many months. Folder by folder, my university studies seem to frown at me under a thick layer of dust. JK Rowling's magic books that once bewitched my childhood are sleeping next to tattered notebooks and long-forgotten novels. In my closet I find stacks and piles of clothes I bought many years ago. In a life when shopping was still a hobby and took place outside hardware stores and boat chandleries. On level two, coming home is the ideal moment to question the very existence of some things - and a good time to let go of them.
Coming home is the ideal moment to question the very existence of some things - and a good time to let go of them.
Level three: celebrate what's new.
On my desk I usually find a pile of formal, administrative letters. They are addressed to a person who ensures to pay her taxes, who never intentionally forgets to pay her bills and who is generally rather underinsured. Whenever I come home, I feel that I'm yet again a little bit more than just the addressee of these letters. Because traveling changes me. It makes me braver, more mindful and bit by bit, happier It opens me up to the new, the strange and the unfamiliar. And leaves salt cristals on my skin and traces on my heart.
Maybe, coming home is one of the most important moments of any travel experience. Because it reveals whether we are just ticking off a holiday that we are supposed to take because our employment contract provides 30 days for it. Or if we allow our journey to help us gain some distance. So that when coming home, we can celebrate, reflect and let go.
How do you feel when coming home after a long weekend in a foreign city, a hiking holiday in the mountains, or a sunny sailing season on a boat? I'd love to hear your thoughts, experiences or questions. Write a comment or drop me an e-mail @ [email protected].
Photos: Pexels / Cottonbro Studio, Huỳnh-Dạt, Wendy Wei