Down here, as well as staring out the window and eyeing the incessant church bells beadily, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Not Australia, although when the winter or a sudden need for good, fresh Thai sets in, Australia does start playing on a mental loop; more the idea of what constitutes the ideal home. This is largely because Weiden, for all its oft-repeated positives SG and I throw back and forth – close to Prague! Road-trippable proximity to Italy! Cheaper living! Our apartment! – isn’t where either of us want to be, nor a place either of us would ever willingly call home.
When it comes to choosing where you, as an adult, will live, your location of choice says a lot about you, beyond status and reflecting how cool/adventurous/edgy/glamorous/etc you subconsciously or quite consciously perceive yourself to be. And not just what you need or want either, like proximity to work or public transport or a separate toilet and bathroom. It says a lot about what you value – the type of community you want to be within, space or closeness to others, having Mum ten minutes away, a cultural scene, the great outdoors. What you’ll compromise on also says a lot – the size of your house for closeness to the city and vice versa. I know my parents went for space, plenty of it, the opportunity to build their own home and closeness to family over being near the city and a more urban or suburban lifestyle. Consequently us kids grew up with a paddock as a playground and countless animals as playmates. But my Dad had a solid daily commute to work and back which, thirty years ago – unlike now, when it’s a norm – was considered pretty wild. That home, where we grew up, will always be home. Or, for the sake of clarification when ‘home’ could refer to any number of places, ‘home, home.’
When the decision about where you live is unceremoniously taken from your hands and popped into the hands of, say, a job or a partner’s job, and you wind up living somewhere a) you would never have chosen if left to your own devices b) you weren’t aware actually existed, which can be a good thing, but such unawareness is often for a reason, that can tell you even more about yourself. Firstly, it will show you that you’re quite an adaptive little thing. Then it will show you what you would like to have around you, what you can do without for a short period of time but would rather not do without permanently and what you need to feel settled and balanced and content.
Comparing Weiden to Kiel, where we have just spent 6 months and comparing both of them to Münster, my first home here and indeed Sydney, my ‘home home’, has given me the opportunity to really look at what I want from a home, and I use home in the sense of location I live, my town/city/place of residence. There’s what I’d prefer, versus what I need and it’s the latter that is perhaps most revealing. We don’t often think about what we need because, for the most part, we are fortunate enough that our needs are met, and then some. It’s when those needs aren’t met that you really start thinking, that’s what I depend on, oh so that’s that creates that happy ripple effect and that’s the lynch pin that holds all of that together. Huh.
At this point in my adulthood, partly as a result of moving around these past few years, I can safely point to what I want and what I need. (An ideal home would address both, but ideal is a changeable notion, one you need to squeeze and mold a little bit, as years go by.) I need a social circle. Surprise! I would very much prefer family nearby, if not my own (ideal), SG’s will do quite nicely. If not either, then a social circle that acts as family or the ability to get to family with relative ease. So I suppose family can go down as a ‘need’. I’d like a cinema nearby, with a range of listings. I need a local at which to sup wine with my social circle. I need a book shop. I’d prefer being within reach of good restaurants, a shopping street or two and fresh food markets. The ocean would be preferable and I believe, as I grow older, will stop being preferable and start being necessary. I don’t want to be landlocked, I don’t like it. I don’t want to live next to two churches and their fucking bells.
I have also learnt the following: getting sort of squiffy, by oneself, off 1/3 of a bottle of red wine and streaming series endlessly feels, in equal measures, great and sad but can be necessary part of adaption. And drinking wine with one’s friends and family over Skype can bathe an evening in the warmest of glows.