What is home and how does it become one? I have been asking myself this question over and over again since I moved to LA 10 years ago – maybe even longer. Maybe when I first moved to New York in my twenties and started the process of not only moving out of my parent’s home, but actually moving to an entirely different country for the first time. I don’t think it was as conscious at that time, but after I ended up moving back to America at 30, and having children, I’ve had this discussion in my mind or with friends on an almost daily basis. The memories and the notion of where we are born sometimes hold us back from allowing ourselves to belong to another place.
I was unaware of the fact that when I left, I would become a part of a new place and a new country, slowly without realizing it. When I had my first child, I started creating new experiences that somehow, at least for a while, wiped out my old ones. Being in a new place, I felt a strong sense of belonging mostly because of these new experiences. Through having children, I created new references without really being conscious of it. I felt guilty when I didn’t long for my home country every day or feel that certain connection to it that everybody talked about. Or maybe I just had to distance myself from the well of emotions I’d feel when I dwelled on the fact that I had removed myself from my old references.
But I still longed for my memories of Norway, more than the actual place. I somehow longed mostly for my early childhood – summers especially. I found a reminiscence of that in the Californian light watching my children grow.
I long for home when I smell certain smells- smells from my childhood in particular. Newly cut grass, the smell of lilac or rain in the morning, apple trees – all bring me back to the garden of my youth. As does a fabric that reminds me of my mother’s nightgown that I w
Living so far away from my childhood references, a place where nothing looks the same, I figured that it’s just through smell I can be transcended back to my past and my home. I’ve been creating new memories over these years, and an ocean is dividing my different memories. I’m still divided, and maybe more similar to what my daughter feels now than I thought. “When I’m in LA, I miss Norway, and when I’m in Norway, I miss LA” she claims.
When I’m in Norway, or home as I still call it, it’s not my home in an everyday sense any longer. It’s memories instead. I tap into who I used to be, because I have no memories or references of all that has happened to me in my adult years there. I still feel that all my biggest life changing experiences happened in America. In LA. All of my adult references belong here, and my childhood and youth belong to Norway. It’s not until now that I really understand and realize that maybe you belong more to your experiences than to a certain place.- Tonje