Since visiting my Aunty's and Uncle's on Saturday, I've been thinking a lot about what makes home home. When my family left our beautiful old house when I was eight, I think my sisters felt they didn't have a real home anymore, just a house where Mum and Dad live. The old house was where all of their childhood memories were, good and bad; one was thirteen and the other eighteen when we moved, ages when you spend less time at your own house but are so adrift you need an anchor most. Just over eight years ago, the latter moved to the far north, and while it took some adjusting to, it straight away became home. I could go on forever telling you why, but I think you'll understand when I just say that when she's there, she breathes easy. Her husband, my brother(-in-law) told me years ago that Auckland had tired him; here he always had to be something, whereas up there he could just be him. It was one of the most crucial albeit indirect pieces of advice I've been given (I loathe "wisdom" in this context); I've always been really concerned with knowing who I am, and for a while I really wanted to move up there too, living in one of the shacks around from Shipwreck Bay, growing veges, fishing, trading, smoking a lot of weed and just being me, whoever that turned out to be. Changes to dole eligibility and a couple of other things put a (hopefully) temporary end to that dream, but at least I now had conditions for the places I would choose to live.
A favourite cousin of mine moved to Hamamatsu several years ago, after the hardest time in his life. After his first visit to Japan, it was clear he had found something, and when he didn't rush back when the earthquake and tsunami hit, it became clear that Japan is home. Not to say NZ isn't special, but in the same way Auckland is a demanding place for my sister, I imagine Japan to be his haven where he can live the way he wants to and be who he wants to be. I hate thinking that his heart might be breaking seeing what's happening to the country where he found his place.
I don't know if Vincent and I have found that place yet. I love Auckland; it's part of me and it's where most of the people I love best are. It could be where home is; I'm pretty sure I know who I am, what's important to me, and what I want, and I could do a lot worse than being near the people who mean the most to me. But I don't know. Something inside me thinks there might be somewhere where people think like Vincent and me; where the way we choose to live isn't exceptional - where we don't feel like a novelty. It might be Cuba. It might be Tolaga Bay. It might be down the street from my parents... I'll let you know.