14 April 2012

Where do you live?

Understanding home is pretty difficult.  We normally assign a pretty generic place name to the idea of home.  The further away we get from the place the more and more generic it gets.

Right now I live in the city of Mississauga.  If someone from around here asks me where my home is I would tell them "Mississauga".  I own a little bit of land here, have a house, just built a raised garden bed in the backyard this morning before it started raining.

If Mississauga is my home, and Mississauga is in Canada, wouldn't that mean that Canada would have to be my home as well?  Yet it's a whole different story to refer to a country as your home.  I grew up on the east side of Indianapolis, Indiana.  It was hard for me to ever even say that Indianapolis was my home.  I definitely didn't feel at home downtown, or out west, and definitely not up north.

The United States, even as it grows seemingly more and more dysfunctional by the day, still registers as home for me in the big picture.  My brain puts out alarms whenever the conversation of home and country even come up, it's a topic riven with competing psychological interests.

But when you break away from the psychological attachments and look at what I've just said, it makes no sense.  A city that is Canada is where I would call home in any normal ol' conversation, but the same doesn't stand true for Canada itself.  That word, home, like most words, has so much meaning bound up in such a small space that it's hard to treat it with any sense of greater understanding.

If the US is home, then wouldn't the deep heart of Mississippi be home?  It's the US?  If Mississauga is home then wouldn't the mansions up and down Mississauga Road be home?  They're in Mississauga.

When any of us are asked about the idea of home, we have answers at the ready.  When we start to break those answers down though, we're left without a good understanding of whether the thing that we call home is specific enough to have any real meaning.

Understanding that contradiction is one of the important parts of understanding the idea of cosmopolitanism.


  1. There are the old sayings "home is where you lay your head" and "home is where you hang your hat." For me, I think it is the place where I feel most comfortable and safe. I have laid my head and hung my hat in some very uncomfortable place over the years.

  2. I've thought about this from time to time, especially after having bought a home myself. The real indicator for me isn't anything that logic really dictates, but something a bit more primal.

    You could logically determine home as the place you have lived the longest, or as the place that has had the most impact on your life.

    For me, home is a place determined not by how you feel when you're there, but how you feel when you come back. I know I've felt it for Indianapolis after returning from a trip to Colorado, and I hope to test this upon returning to the US from some overseas trip at some point.