Home is where the Heart is

by Anna

Just what is home and where is my heart?

Having been born and bred in Germany on the mainland of good old Europe, one day, having just turned 21, the growing feeling of something missing got too much and I escaped for a few weeks, off to see the bottom of the world, the glorious New Zealand.

Just a year earlier I had been adamant that I wouldn’t ever go very far from my localities, namely family and friends, with more emphasis on friends at that time. It just happened that this big and merry circle of friends broke into many pieces after a few personal indifference between the many male and few female counterparts which lead me to re-evaluate my current status.

Did I really want to stay in this area? Did my temporary job as a web programmer really make a difference to the world? Would a full-time employment really give me the reward I craved? Was I prepared to keep travelling the 50 kilometers to work every day, or would I even dare consider moving into this bleak industrial city?

The decision was served on a silver tray by my boss announcing the arrival of a new member of the team who would not only take over my work load and foreign correspondence but also be permanently employed… Oh the bitter-sweet epiphany.

Lagunenfeuer von Anna Hoffmann

Suddenly the sun rose on my horizon. And it was a very wide horizon indeed. The whole world was open. I had no ties, nothing that held me back. For the first time in my life I was ready to take a leap. And leap I did, though a little shaky, onto my first plane ride ever, 25 hours to the other end of the world.

When I got back I brought with me a little bit of the smiles and openness I had encountered in the land of sheep and decided that I would very much like to live there one day. Adamant to fulfill that dream I changed career and studied foreign languages (only German, English and a little bit of Spanish to be precise).

I vividly remember the moment that I stood in the hallway of my mother’s house, which had been a home for the past eight years and thus for most of my conscious youth, and it suddenly struck me that the minute I walk through that front door, life will never be the same again. And for a few seconds I actually struggled to move. Memories from childhood flooded in, the comfort of a home, of family, security, knowing that you will be looked after, all this I was about to give up. But I also knew that if I wouldn’t give it up, I would never grow.

And I’m glad I did. I certainly lost a part of my heart to the ever so beautiful old town of Heidelberg in southern Germany, and made many good friends. I even said that this would be the perfect place to spend the last few years of my life. I don’t know for sure whether it was just the fact that I had left my mother’s house for the first time, or if I just really loved this place, but despite my obvious desire and curiosity to go abroad, I well and truly had arrived in a place where I felt home. But the niggling feeling to go further afield never ceased.

It did, however, stop the minute I arrived in England. And nothing, absolutely nothing, could have sparked it anew or made me leave again. And I did encounter a few nasty incidents over the years. One told me to “f*** off back to my own country”. Well, here I was. Everything around me was new. I discovered a part of me that had long been suppressed by other’s ideals and concepts and which could now just be and grow without having to justify itself. And the little voice that had pushed me so hard to finish my education and move abroad had become silent.

It’s place was taken over by a much stronger voice. This new voice reminded me again and again that this was my place to be. No lack of money, job or accommodation could stop me. I was given an easy option out by means of a coach driver who was working for the German student organisation that I had come over to work for as an intern, who quite happily would have taken me back to Germany the very day I had quit the internship, but hey, that would have been far too easy.

I well knew I had to stay, because I felt wholly and completely at home. Considering the lack of financial security or the mere prospect of work or a room to stay, which most people would associate “home” with, I had arrived in my heart, which in turn provided enough space to call home. It created a feeling of happiness, a little excitement too, a sheer sense of being and  happiness about it.

And exactly this sensation was my driving force. It propelled me forward to finding work, from the shittiest cleaning job to  jaw-clenching boring data entry and finally lead me to the health care sector, in which I, by all means, never wanted to end up. But somehow I did. And turns out it actually is the only job I have ever done so far that gives me that rewarding feeling that I actually do something good to someone else on a physical as well as mental level which I never got from my work in front of a computer.

So, having found myself and something that fulfills me, was” the key to my home”.

Why, out of all places, it had to be an island that gives me the sense of freedom, I don’t know. Compared to the vast opportunities on the Eurasian continent, from Spain to Russia to Africa to  China and India, all of which I could theoretically reach by foot, here I will have to either be a really strong swimmer or have a boat at hand to ship me over. Neither of which I can count to my personal resources. Yet, I feel happy and content when the fresh sea air wafts around my nose and the green grass of the South Downs collides with the white chalk cliffs surrounded by the inherently beautiful blue of the sea and the sky.

Of course, now that I begin to settle, I dream of a proper home, a house, that will provide me with shelter, a garden to grow food and a green and serene surrounding to relax and unwind. But this place won’t be possible, unless I am happy with who I am, as a person on the outside as well as a spiritual being on the inside. And as long as I have a good cause which will contribute to the improvement of society and the world at large, either in terms of full-time employment or even as a hobby, nothing will stand in the way of me, my heart and my home.