Home is a missing place

I’ve been thinking about the concept of home a bit lately again. I’m not really sure why, but it may have to do with the fact I have itchy feet again, and want to travel (and/or move) quite badly right now. I’m sure the urge to move will be satiated with a little traveling, but I’m very conscious it’s an urge that hits me every three years ( its currently been 2 1/2 since my last move)

In recent years quite a few very good friends have moved, with partners/ for partners, or also just back to the place they define as home.

And that sounds like a lovely, warm idea, but it always begs the question of me, where is my home?

I grew up 3 years in England, moved to Singapore for 3, moved back to England for 18 months, moved to Denmark for 3 and half years, moved back to England for 3 years, moved to LA for 2 years, moved to England for 4 years, moved to SF for 1 year, moved to LA for 4 years, moved to England for 1 year, moved to LA for 2 1/2 years… which leads me to where I am now, and explains why I get itchy feet 🙂

The years I remember loving the most have been the shortest times in one place. My one year internship in SF, my one year MA in London. Although I now like England; growing up I never did, and never felt English. Part of this I’m sure was growing up in a small town, where I always felt like an odd duck.

Not really surprising when you try to explain how you used to get Chinese lessons from the old lady next door, who would teach me at the bus stop every morning before I went to school, to a fellow classmate 6 year old who has never left the English countryside.

Or coming back and having to explain you’ve been in Denmark for the last three years, I was convinced they just thought I was lying, and I had been hidden in a basement for way too long.

In high school in LA, it was cool to be  from England. I didn’t identify with cool either, but it made it totally fine for me to be a nerd girl while wearing tiny 60s dresses with lilac doc martins, so it worked for me.

Moving back to England for my BA, in our performance class we were told me had to made flags of our home country for our explorer costumes, out of muslin.
I couldn’t do it. There was no one country I could claim, or could claim me. So took a piece of chicken wire and wove an English, an American, a Danish and a Singaporean flag through all the holes. The wire started to disintegrate and all the lines of colour bled into each other, tangling into a mess of nationality. My tutor hated me, but it was my flag.

Going back to England for my MA, I finally fell in love with the city again, almost as a foreigner, as if I were exploring the things the locals love. My friends commented on my LA style, and teased me for my American accent.

When my year was almost done, in Athens, as part of my program, I itched for LA- the smog, traffic, mountains, sea and heat of Athens all reminding me of my other home.

And now, back in LA, in a city where I felt free to be whatever, whenever while in high school, I’m struggling with the idea of ‘home’.

My parents live up in San Francisco and I love the city. I love walking, and seeing the museums, sitting in parks reading- doing all the things I love to do in London, funnily enough. When I lived there for a year, I loved it, but waited for a chance to move back to LA for warmer weather and the ocean. But now I’m ready for a change.

I’m not sure if this means I’m getting more English as I get older, and am looking for a replacement on this side of the ocean that reminds me of home. Where my parents live looks exactly like a drier version of Wales, where my Dad is from. Or am just starting to reject all I loved about LA? Its funny that I always miss this place when I’m away, but seem to hate it while I’m here. But I am feeling like its time to move again; I’m just wondering where home can be next?

About CT

Claire Townsend is a freelance costume designer/maker and theatre practitioner.
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