Where is home? Or rather what is home?
I’ve been wandering Europe for months now and my feet, butt and head are asking those questions.
Feet—"OK, Kathy, where do you wipe me? Where shall I return to after a day of sightseeing, getting lost, finding food…?”
Butt—"Where in the heck can I find a chair on which to park, much less to get on wi-fi and type on the ipad?”
Head – “And where is the pillow on which to lay and rest, perchance to dream? Quiet would be nice too.”
At my farewell “launch party” in Florida my friend Judy gave me this experienced advice. After all she too had traveled for a year, painting as she went. “Kathy – home is where your stuff is.”
OK, suitcases, emergency food, bottle of water. This is home?
After sleeping in a 4 person hostel room right next to the noisy kitchen/dining room/living room in Bergen and traveling in the rain by taxi then boat to the island of Mjoima, I needed home! And there it was in the person(s) of Rebecca Smith and 16 month old Linden. They were waiting for me at the boat stop so we could board the bus together to her island of Byrknesoy… Ah… welcome for the weary traveler…
The week I spent with them and became more and more "home."
I had my own room – quiet except when Linden woke at night. I could prop my butt against the pillows and type. And there was a much used mat on which I could wipe my feet (gum boots.)
Home became where I could play with the children. Take Mirren to the beach, admire her seaweed mermaid and playground accomplishments. Walk Linden to kindergarten in his pram and watch him point out lorries, sheep, seagulls and flowers. (Children with British accents sound so smart, don’t they?)
Give them gifts of stuffed-animal dragons after telling Mirren the legend of Perseus, the Argonauts and his killing of the Ljubljana dragon in the marshes, before reconstructing his boat and returning home with the Golden Fleece. Watch a puppet show.
Celebrate the construction of a duck house.
Eat new potatoes unearthed by my over-eager weeding.
Home is where I gave the Istanbul airport gift of Turkish delights, which Mirrin apologized for not liking. Tasted new Norwegian delights of open-faced sandwiches of cheese and Marmalite (British), garnished with cucumbers and red peppers. Codfish casserole, which she loved!
And watched Mirren and her father Ryan compete over their shared cravings for tinned mackerel in tomato sauce. (Really?) “It tastes lovely,” claimed Mirren.
Home is where we can complain about the weather, rejoice in a bit of sunshine and dry our laundry in the living room. Where I am asked for stories of Florida and about hurricanes, alligators and crocodiles. And am told of Mirren’s nightmare that America started a war. (Where does this come from?)
And home is where I am told I will be missed before I board the bus to take me to the boat to the hotel in Balestrand.
For a short week the village of Byrknes was home.
And proof of that is Ryan’s special dessert to celebrate our shared time – fresh strawberries, cream and Cocoa Puffs.
Home, I’ve learned, is where the heart is. Even if for a week.