Home is but a place.
I learned this in 2003 when my neighborhood was swallowed up by the California cedar fires. Thousands of us retreated to our homes to find a pile of ash and a few melted spoons. I remember excitedly digging through rubble for remnants, as if on a treasure hunt- credit to my mom for adding levity to tragedy.
Months later, I watched concrete spread across our barren lot. The foundation settled with ironic ease, bearing little resemblance to the precious moments that had taken place in this space. My first steps, my first words, my first memories; suffocated by the smell of fresh concrete. With new foundation, disappeared the final remnants of the only thing I'd known as home.
Rather than a place, though, I learned the aspects of home I valued most were moments salvageable only in memory anyway. It was less of the place in which these moments took shape, but with whom they were shared.
Unbeknownst at the time, this was the moment my perception of home permanently changed. Home went from the familiarity of a physical place to a feeling. No longer did location define home. It transformed into an intangible piece, determined by warmth, comfort, loving and being loved. This event inspired the realization that home is where the heart is. And still today, I hold it as my truth.
There's a Danish word, hygge, that doesn't have a direct English translation. It's the equivalent to sitting around the fireplace with loved ones, laughing and drinking hot chocolate. But rather than the event, hygge describes the feeling; the fuzzy one that starts in your stomach and travels up through your throat.
My past year has been abundant in hygge. When people ask how I'm still on the road, I turn to a fallible English description for that heart-bursting-at-its-seams feeling. So rather than explaining hygge in writing, here are some moments of it captured in photos:
As much as I anticipate the warmth of my bed and the adjustment back to routine, home for me is now literally spread across the world. It's woven in countless moments of hygge that continue to grow by the day. Home has been crumbled up and thrust across continents, embedded in every soul who has touched my heart and guided me into a better, happier, more whole version of who I used to be.
I am grateful for every path that has led to this one. So to all my home(s): thank you. Thank you for teaching me, inspiring me, and making me pee my pants with laughter.
With light and love,