What makes a spot feel like home? Is it because it's the place you live in, the local food you appreciate, the cultural traditions you enjoy, the location's natural beauty or does it just boil down to good friendship?
We have lived in many places and some have stuck with us more than others, to the point where the ones that have conquered a part of our hearts we still call home whereas the others we hardly ever talk about anymore.
Paris is officially our home but we also call Lugano and Madrid our home. Years ago I would have argued that one might be schizophrenic to so convincingly feel part of not just two but three communities. Today I know that not just my husband and I have created a strong bond to these places but the kids feel totally integrated in all three as well.
Of course, the fact that we regularly return to Lugano and Madrid renders the feeling of home easier. But the question remains: why do we so enjoy returning to "our homes"?
Yes, we love the local food and we travel back to Paris with our luggage full of goodies every time to cure our home sickness. Yes, we have adopted traditions from each country which we add to our rather eclectic yearly calendar of family celebrations. Yes, we do speak the local language and follow the who's who of the moment on regional TV and yes, we enjoy the natural beauty each location has to offer... but in the end...
... in the end...
... it is the human factor that makes all the difference.
Our homes resemble Grand Central Station the minute we arrive. Neighbours popping by to greet us, girl friends coming round for brunch, family friends inviting us for dinner, kids enjoying sleepovers, teenagers hanging out in the den listening to music, aquaintances catching up with us, custodians and gardeners happy to see us, the postman and the lady at the bakery intrigued by our lifestyle but appreciative of our loyalty.
Expat girl is convinced that even the cows down the road recognize her when she returns to Lugano!
It is the feeling of belonging that turns a place into a home. The consciousness of being appreciated and cherishing the good things in life such as true friendship. The demonstration of affection and the loyalty and respect that comes with it ... from both sides of the relationship.
This might sound like a cliché but I believe it is what ties us to our homes ... since ... how lonely and boring would a home be without the life and soul of human beings!